Randi Buckley, the creator of the course “Healthy Boundaries For Kind People,” says that the purpose of boundaries is not to keep certain people or things OUT of your life, rather boundaries serve the purpose of keeping certain people and things IN your life. When you’re a kind person (and I know you are), holding a self-care boundary can make you feel mean or selfish. You might feel uncomfortable with ending a session on time, charging for a missed session, or saying no to working hours you don’t want to work.
You want to be kind and helpful to your clients, and I believe that your self-care boundaries help you do that. I’m not talking about clinical boundaries, although those are incredibly important. I’m talking about self-care boundaries. When we practice great self-care, we’re better therapists. We’re better at helping our clients make the huge transformations they have hired us to help them with. Self-care boundaries support your energy, financial health, and physical health.
Here’s a little quiz to see how well you’re holding self-care boundaries in your therapy practice. Give yourself a point for every statement that’s true for you. If you get 10 out of 10, you’re a self-care rock star. If you get 0 out of 10 I’m afraid you may be a martyr. And we can fix that!
- I end my sessions on time with a few exceptions when it makes sense to me.
- I eat nourishing and yummy food when I’m at work.
- I stretch my body and move around between sessions.
- I consult weekly with peers who I like and trust.
- I charge for missed sessions within the frame of my policies.
- I take time off regularly.
- When I take time off, I don’t work.
- I work hours that make sense to my body and life rhythms.
- I’ve set up my business so that when my practice is full I make more than enough money.
- I avoid colleagues who I feel undervalued by and seek out those who I feel supported by.
Alright then. So how did you do? Let's go through these, one by one and make you into a rockstar.
I end my sessions on time with few exceptions.
When you end a session on time and leave yourself the full break between clients, you may focus on the impact on the client who’s leaving the session. How will they feel when I say it’s time to stop? Will they feel unimportant? But consider the impact it has on your NEXT client. When you stop on time, you give yourself time to write a note, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, touch your toes, and maybe even sit in silence for a minute. What you’ve held on to in those 10 minutes is your energy and feeling of groundedness.
I eat nourishing and yummy food when I'm at work.
Why am I including your food habits in this list? Having healthy and yummy food at work is a self-care boundary you set with yourself. When I’m not holding my self-care boundaries with myself, I might not plan ahead and bring food with me. Then I’m stuck choosing between something unhealthy or spending too much money on a meal. When I hold my boundaries and stick to my self-care rituals, I pack leftovers and snacks the night before.
I stretch my body and move around between sessions.
This goes back to taking your full break between clients. You deserve to check in with yourself between clients and attend to your body.
I consult weekly with peers who I like and trust.
You’re busy, I know. Getting the regular support of your peers makes you better at your job and makes you feel less alone in this work. My consult group is my professional lifeline. As busy as my life becomes, I have to hold the boundary of keeping that weekly meeting on my calendar.
I charge for missed sessions within the frame of my policies.
Do you feel guilty when you charge for a missed session even when it’s within the window of your policy? Do you look for any excuse to NOT charge for a missed session? You absolutely get to decide what your cancellation policy is, but once you create it thoughtfully, I encourage you to hold that boundary. Of course an exception will come along, but don’t put your own financial self-care last on your list.
I take time off regularly.
I really hope you can say yes to this one. If not, please read my article about how to take a proper vacation.
When I take time off, I don't work.
Set things up before you go so that you can really let go, OK?
I work hours that make sense to my body and life rhythms.
I used to work evenings and weekends, and sometimes saw 8 clients in a row. It worked at the time. As my life and rhythms have changed, I’ve needed to move my schedule into the morning and not have as many sessions in a row. If you’re working hours you don’t want to work, start transitioning off of them now. If you know that your quality of life will improve when you stop working by 7 pm, do not take another regular appointment at that time! I know it’s tough when you have an opening and you want to say yes to a client who really wants that time. Remember that when your schedule feels good to you, you feel more ease and joy in your life. It’s a big deal.
I've set up my business so that when my practice is full I make more than enough money.
This boundary is about financial self-care. As you are setting your fees and arranging your schedule, do not set your income goal right where you NEED it to be. When you design your business to make just enough money, you’re going to make a little bit less than enough, even when you’re full. Something always goes differently than you planned. Allow an income buffer and set your goal higher.
I avoid colleagues who I feel undervalued by and seek out those who I feel nurtured by.
Spend time in those mutually supportive relationships that make you feel valued, inspired and engaged. If you spend time with a colleague who makes you feel less-than, cut it out. Your time and energy are valuable.
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