007 A Therapist Burnout Story: Leaving Private Practice with Annie Schuessler

October 25, 2023
Joy After Burnout Episode 7: Annie Schuessler

Hey therapists, ready to listen to a real life stories of leaving private practice? Dr. Jen Blanchette and Business Coach Annie Schuessler are diving deep into those career change thoughts we’ve all had. They talk about the hesitations, attachments, and fears that come with potentially abandoning clients and their professional identity.

Guess what? You’re not alone in this. If you’re a therapist considering a career transition, listening to this conversation can give you a sense of relief and validation. You’ll realize that many therapists share the same concerns and struggles as you do. It’s reassuring to know that you’re not alone in this journey.

This discussion will encourage you to take a closer look at your own motivations for staying in or leaving the therapy field. It’s essential to explore your aspirations and personal growth to ensure that they align with your chosen profession.

Ever heard of sunk cost fallacy? They’re breaking it down in a big way. Consider it a friendly push to break free from that trap and make decisions based on what’s right for you now.

Speaking of you, it’s time to put yourself first. Dr. Jen and Annie talk a lot about finding that balance and happiness in your work. Self-care isn’t just a buzzword – it’s essential.

Now, let’s talk takeaways. Here are three gems you’ll snag from this episode

  • You’re Not Alone: This conversation is like a reminder that you’re part of a community. Other therapists are going through the same thought process. It’s comforting to know you’re in good company.
  • Reflect and Align: Dr. Jen and Annie will inspire you to dig deep into your motivations. Take a moment to reflect on your journey and see if your career is still aligned with where you want to go.
  • Break Free and Prioritize: The sunk cost fallacy is a tough one, but hearing stories of others who’ve moved past it is empowering. Plus, the emphasis on your well-being isn’t just advice – it’s a reality check.

More from Annie: www.rebeltherapist.me

Speaker A: I think it’s also the permission that there are other avenues.

Speaker B: And it’s okay if you don’t love having a therapy practice. Like, I needed to know that. I needed to know same. It’s really okay. This is a great model for some folks, and it’s also really okay if this doesn’t end up being the right.

Speaker A: One for you 100%. It you. So I’m wondering if you can maybe talk about I mean, I was in your I was in two of your programs, but what you offer for therapists, that’s kind of outside that box, because I conceptualize it as being outside the box, but you might say it differently.

Speaker B: Yeah. So the way that I help people is to figure out one experiment to run that’s outside of a private practice. And so the container for doing that is helping folks figure out what is a pilot program that they could run with a particular niche, serving some people that they’re really excited about and creating something high quality.

Speaker C: This is the Finding Joy After Burnout podcast, a podcast for therapists and mental health professionals. Together, we unravel Burnout and find our road back to joy. Here’s your host, Dr. Jen Blanchette.

Speaker A: Hey. Have you ever put so much energy into something that you couldn’t imagine quitting? That’s how I felt about my therapy practice. I honestly could not imagine doing something different after all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it. So my guest today, Amy Schuessler, and I talk about some of that some of that journey of closing a private practice and also having different offerings, different roles of ourselves as therapists and as people. So we talk about that identity shift that happens when someone changes a career and specifically someone who feels like they no longer want to do therapy. So I would love you to listen to this episode. I think Annie has so much to share with us. Hey, therapist. I wanted to let you know about a free resource that I’ve developed for you, introducing the Before You Quit guide. This is a free resource I wish I had when I was in the throes of Burnout. So it’s going to include focused journal props on areas of struggle and burnout in clinical practice, identification of depleting experiences in your practice and in your life. And then we’ll hopefully identify some actionable items for change. If you’re feeling depleted in your role, please give yourself the gift of slowing down and assessing what’s really going on with your career turmoil. As a therapist, I know it can be confusing, isolating, and totally overwhelming. So grab your freebie. The link for that is in the show notes. Thanks. Hello, Annie. Welcome to the Joy After Burnout podcast. It’s so great to have you.

Speaker B: Hi, Jen. I’m so excited to be here.

Speaker A: Awesome. Yeah. So typically on my podcast, I’m asking folks, what is your Burnout story?

Speaker B: Yeah, there was a building of feeling like my job wasn’t quite the right fit for me and that I was stressed out. And I think that was probably going on for several years where I just thought it was normal and I wasn’t really questioning it. So I had a full therapy practice, and I felt like that was the goal. And so I was kind of, like, living what I thought my dream was. And I had invested so much time, so much money, so much energy into building a full therapy practice that was really thriving financially, and people were getting help and all the things that I had wanted. And I was noticing over the years that I was not loving my job. And I felt kind of guilty and ashamed about that because it’s such important work. So many of my colleagues seemed like they absolutely loved the work and were so fulfilled by it. And so I just kept kind of, like, trying different things, being like, well, maybe if I niche a little further in this direction and then, yeah, that would give me a little bit of relief. Maybe if I kind of do this training over here, that’s going to give me a new way of working. And maybe I’ll just kind of keep I just kind of kept riding that wave of like, no, this is good. No, this is good. I can keep doing this. So that was kind of going on for a long time. And then I went away with some friends from college, so folks who I was close to but hadn’t lived in the same town as for a really long time. And we had a little private reunion, four of us. And as each person was talking about her job, her career, I was getting this sense that even though they had things to complain about, I was getting the sense that each of them were really fulfilled by and satisfied by their work. And one of them is a minister, one was a professor, one was an organizer, really different jobs. But I could just tell there was, like this juiciness and this aliveness to how they were feeling about their work. Whereas when I was talking about my work, I was feeling kind of, like, pulled down. I was feeling this sort of dread about going back. And that concerned me.

Speaker A: I felt like I kind of had to see, I’m laughing because it’s annoying. Laugh. Yeah, I’m laughing.

Speaker B: I could see like, oh, boy, I don’t feel about my job right now the way that they do. And I had some clarity while I was there and then on the plane ride home, and a lot of tears about, I don’t think this is working for me, and I don’t know what to do about it because I care about this work. I love my clients. Are we allowed to swear?

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker B: I have invested a **** ton into this career, and so who am I to do something different? Like, who am I to say, like, yeah, how privileged to say, yeah, this is all working out, but I need to do something else. And I was the breadwinner. I was the primary breadwinner by a long shot, and we’ve got two kids, and so all of that, I was feeling really confused about, what will I do? And then I went home to my partner and I told them, I need to tell you this wasn’t a complete surprise to them, but it was just with so much more clarity that I was saying, I really don’t think this is working. And I’m so sorry because I know you have sacrificed and this is what pays our bills. But I’m going to have to make some kind of change, and I don’t know what. And I know I am really interested in business coaching, so that’s what I would really want to do. But I know I just built this thing with your help, and luckily, they were just I mean, not luckily, this is who they are. They were just very on board with, that’s what you want to do, that’s what you should do. We’ll figure it out. And so from there, it was not a straight line to just, now I’m a business coach, and I am unfettered and free. It was a journey of kind of recalibrating, little by little, a few steps forward to putting out my shingle, doing more work as a business coach, and then kind of going back and being like, oh, but this could work. This could work. Maybe at a smaller percentage.

Speaker A: Like, the therapy practice could work.

Speaker B: What’s that?

Speaker A: Like the therapy practice could work going back. Yes.

Speaker B: What’s the balance between these two careers? And then really, it just took me a long time to give myself permission to set up my career in a way that I really wanted to. So I think that’s the part where there’s no one right answer about how anyone should set up their career. But if I could go back, I’d just be like, girl, what do you really want to do? Let’s give that a try. Yes, let’s give that a try now, because that’s where I’ve ended up, is having as you know, my whole thing now is business strategy. I’m not a therapist anymore, and I still really value all of those years. Like, I was a therapist for 20 years. I really value that training, that experience, those relationships. And I just I do I do feel like I could have given myself permission a bit faster to make that whole transition.

Speaker A: I’m curious about and maybe you probably have some great insights I do as well from personally quitting my role as a therapist recently. But why do you think therapists struggle so much with that giving themselves permission if it’s not something they feel like they either want to do, if it fits with their personality? But I find that that decision making process is so protracted for us.

Speaker B: Yeah, I think part of it is sunk. Cost fallacy. Like just simply adding up. Even if we’re not doing it consciously, we’re kind of adding up the years and adding up the money and the investment of what we’ve put into that career as it was. So I know that was for me, it was looking know, okay, I got gottman certified. I know how much that I I went know grad school. I know how much that cost. I put all these years into my internship unpaid or barely paid. I know how much that cost. And looking at all of it and then thinking, well, that’s already sunk. So I have to just stay with that investment, which doesn’t actually make any sense. We have this bias towards whatever we’ve already invested in. We’re going to lose the value if we don’t stick with it. And really, that cost is sunk. Like, that’s over no matter what direction we go in next. But I think maybe because becoming a therapist, it does take a big investment upfront of time and or money and definitely tons of energy and love. It’s hard to walk away. And then I think there’s this identity piece, too, of like it took me a long time when I was both a business strategist and a therapist. It took me a long time to start introducing myself as a business strategist or a business coach. Up until really I think I let go of my license and my therapy practice was just a teeny tiny portion of my income or my time. I would still introduce myself as a therapist because people knew what that was most of the time. And it was an identity that I could kind of slot myself into and that I was proud. I think I think that can be hard to turn away from. And then I think we tend maybe tell me if you agree with this, Jen. I think we tend to be pretty sensitive, caring people. And so moving away from an identity and a label that is so clearly like a caring profession I think is hard for some of us.

Speaker A: Yeah, I think all of that certainly the identity as a therapist just is. I think there’s a reverence to it for me and for many therapists. Like, I am a therapist, I do therapy. I think of this example of going to my physical therapist because I play tennis and I often go to PT, and my PT was telling me I have this client, and they tell me they’re going to their real therapist later in the week.

Speaker B: Ouch.

Speaker A: He didn’t really take that negatively. It was like, you’re the real therapist. I’m some other kind of therapist. But I think it speaks more to the reverence in that. When we think of therapy, in many ways, we think of mental health therapy. We think of counseling. We think of that relationship. And not to minimize the work of other wonderful qualified professionals that are doing great work because they are equally as important and valued, of course. But I think sometimes there is that identity that we have as therapists that’s hard to shift. And I almost liken it sometimes to spiritual ministers or something like that, who had either there’s some kind of spiritual minister or pastor or priest, whatever. And that identity shift of that’s not who I am anymore. And then who am I now? Because I have that going back to the Sun Cost fallacy. I’ve put so many chips in the boat, if I abandon ship, I’m rudderless. And so I know for me, there was a lot of time spent just feeling like, what’s now? And what do I even do? And I think it’s trying to get us also out of the therapy paradigm, which is entrenched in so many things medical model, patriarchy, so many things that I don’t think don’t fit into our work, but yet we’re kind of asked to stay in that kind of box. So that was a long ramble.

Speaker B: No, it wasn’t. And I think also a therapy practice, like, if we’re thinking about and this was a lot of my experience with being in private practice as a therapist, it’s a really good business model. It works, and a lot of people can make a good living being a therapist in private practice. And so that’s a good problem that it’s sometimes hard to walk away from something that really people know what it is and it pays the bills. And without having to do a lot of the things that you’ve got to do as a business owner in other professions, you can get it going and make a good living as a therapist in private practice. Yeah, I think that can make it it’s a good problem, but it can make it hard for people to step away from.

Speaker A: Yeah, I totally agree. And also, I think one thing I was thinking about is that those relationships to clients almost feeling like I’m abandoning them totally, even though I knew that wasn’t true, that I’m not meant to hold people for years, necessarily. Maybe some other people have that calling. I don’t have that calling. I don’t feel like that’s the type of therapist I was. But somehow I did it anyway, because I think in our training, you just have this artificial ending to every therapy relationship in your training. So, okay, you end a Practica rotation, you end your internship, you end your post up for me, I’m a psychologist, so you end your postdoctoral placement, and so every one ish years. You end a therapy relationship with that client, whereas if your long term private practice there’s just like it’s very much like, where does it start? Where does it end? When should I discharge? And we all have that knowledge, that clinical knowledge of, okay, they’re not meeting treatment progress, and I really should stick to that treatment plan and going back to that. But it’s different when you’re holding humans through pain, and that’s more your focus versus you’re in that kind of educational mindset where everything is to the letter.

Speaker B: Do you know what I mean? Absolutely. So then it’s like to close a therapy practice means actually terminating with some people, where it’s like us initiating, that not because we have to. Yeah, there’s something about permission to do something because you want to. To say, like, I love these people. That’s all I feel about them is like, I love these people. I don’t want to abandon them, I don’t want to harm them in any way. And talking about my clients, and specifically the ones I had to end with at the very end when I was closing, there’s nothing wrong here. There’s nothing that I’m like, I got to get out of here. But to say, like, I’m going to close this because I want to, and because I want for me, in my case, I wanted just one business. I wanted things to be simpler. I didn’t have any horror story to give anybody about why I was shutting it down. And yeah, I feel like it’s getting easier, but I think it definitely did feel hard for me to just say, because this is what I want. This is what feels more right for me.

Speaker A: Right? Yeah. And there’s all this permission that we don’t allow ourselves to claim that we can just want something different. We can just change our minds and want to do something else.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker A: And I think that’s really powerful, what you said, that there’s a wanting to allow ourselves to want something. Yeah, it’s okay.

Speaker B: And it’s a life force, like.

Speaker A: When.

Speaker B: We really want something, especially around what kind of work we want to do, I feel like that life force is so intense that I need to follow it. I help people figure out what niches they’re going to go with in their businesses. And I’ve got all these formulas that I give people and filters I give people to try to figure out what’s going to be a viable direction. And I think the biggest factor is that desire, that drive of what do you feel pulled to the most? Because you need that engine in life to make things happen more than even, like, yes, this is a viable niche. The numbers look like this would be a good business. It’s like, yes, but is it your business? Is it going to provide you that drive? So now I really respect it. I really respect when I’m feeling drawn to doing a project, I really respect that desire.

Speaker A: Yeah. I like that I’m just sitting with it, just letting it sink in. I’m thinking, like, why do we not listen to that? Sometimes?

Speaker B: I know I crowdsource sometimes, like, I crowdsource what my next decision should be. And I think sometimes that can be useful to bounce things off of people to figure out what’s going on in the market, figure out what people need. And I don’t want to ever encourage someone to go create something without talking to people first because we do want to create something that people will want to pay for if it’s our business. But sometimes I think we can crowdsource I can crowdsource myself into a corner where I’m looking for approval, I’m looking for reassurance, and what I need to be doing is following that drive and getting started.

Speaker A: Yeah, I think actually I came to one of that realization when I’m working with you. So I think with a program that I developed before, focused on brain injury, which was a deep area of my specialty, and a group I’m passionate about, and I’m sure I will still be in that world in some way, we’ll see. Because I do have passion there and that feels good. But I think for me, my drive to create something was from scarcity, it was from fear of I can’t do therapy anymore and I have to figure my way out and claw my way out of doing this. So launching a program or launching this thing has to be, it has to happen. And that energy had me spin into something that I don’t think I necessarily wanted to do, but I couldn’t realize it until I did it. And it was part of the unraveling of me closing the practice and figuring that piece out was that, okay, I tried this thing and that’s not what I wanted. And that’s okay too. I still see it as forward progress and not as failure. It was a growth moment where I just had to figure out, okay, you tried something and it wasn’t something that you wanted to do and that’s okay.

Speaker B: Totally. And it was a good guess.

Speaker A: It was a good guess. And in that, I think I was looking a lot to you as my business coach to tell me or to kind of stamp the approval on this is good. Right. I think deference that we have as therapists for safety. Right. I’m going to check with my client to make sure they’re safe. How are you? What do you think? So we’re always checking in with other people. We’re co regulating with people all the time. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just in this context, it may not work for the situation. And so I had to come to a determination that I needed to think about what I really felt and wanted internally from myself instead of my partner, my business coach, who was wonderful is wonderful, by the way. My friends, all that and have that internally before I did that, crowdsourcing before I did that, reaching out to other people, does that make.

Speaker B: There’S, like sounds like there was this little part of you that felt like you were looking for permission maybe to do something different. God, it’s so hard. Jen because it’s like, you for, like that was a really great idea.

Speaker A: Yeah. My own therapist always says, you have the best you don’t know how many millions of ideas, but I think I do have really great ideas. But does that fit when I’m in it? Does it feel good? And it didn’t feel good when I was in it, I think. And that was the hard piece. That’s what I was like, this is a really great idea. This is a really great thing, but it’s not the thing I want I can do right now.

Speaker B: I think when we’re experimenting with a new niche or a new program or whatever it is, I think that needs to be a huge part of what the experiment is meant to show us. It’s like, we can look at what are the numbers telling us? Is this niche or is this program working? Am I getting interest? Are people signing up for my newsletter list or whatever? But I think we also need to be tuning in to, all right, running this experiment. I want to look for those things, but I also want to look for my own internal metrics. Is this lighting me up? Is this working for me? Am I still feeling really obsessed with this thing?

Speaker A: Yeah. Yes. And I think your process actually really illuminated that. So your superpower exercise that we did that was really helpful. And you know what I went back to is I worked in college counseling, and I had a co therapist, a very seasoned, wonderful senior therapist who I was a co therapist with in that group. And each one of the members filled out cards about what they thought about you. And I went back to the cards from that therapy group, and in doing that exercise that you initiated, I know we’re talking all about your but I love your program. But anyway, I went back to that, and a lot of that experience was that I love to work in groups. I love to be able to do different things. Teaching is really important to me, which isn’t much like therapy. I think also your temperament is super important, and knowing that as a person, what am I really kind of designed to do? Does that make sense?

Speaker B: It totally makes sense. I’ve been noticing in myself there are certain things I’m good at that I don’t like to do too much of. And so sometimes I got myself boxed into a corner, which is really different than what you just said, because what you were just saying was, like, those things resonated with you. Like, yes, I love groups, and I love teaching. Something that I noticed I did to myself was in being a therapist with either one on one or couples for, like, 20 years, I was being a certain way. I was being a certain part of myself that I can be and that I can be really good at. And so then I was getting that reflected back to me. Oh, you’re so calm. Oh, you’re so patient. Actually, I can be, but no, I’m actually not that patient. And leaning into patience was using up my patience in a way that resource.

Speaker A: Right. So you have to really that’s all the resource you have of patients that you’re expending in therapy room. Yes.

Speaker B: I look at my spouse and they are patient. They are internally just essentially a patient person who moves more slowly through the world. And same with my partner.

Speaker A: Oh, my gosh. Yeah.

Speaker B: And I’m like, I think my spouse would laugh really hard if someone was describing me as patient. I use it up, and I need to in my daily work, I need to be doing things that allow me to move really quickly and allow me to give feedback fast and move on. I think there can be this danger of us falling into doing more and more of what we’re good at instead of what we’re, like you said, designed for.

Speaker A: Yeah. Me in therapy room, I’m thinking about that after a day of therapy. My body was so mad at me. And probably most therapists, I feel like or feel very similar, but I just hate to sit for hours upon hours. I’m very active as a person, so I want to go walk and I want to do all these things. And that’s not really what a therapist workday is like. It’s also thinking through that stuff, like, how do I feel throughout my therapy day? Yes, it’s working for me. Oh, my gosh, so good.

Speaker B: Yeah. And then there’s like I know that the way people are doing therapy is changing so much, and so there may be for some folks, a way to genuinely step into a way of doing therapy that feels more life giving, that feels more like it’s how they’re designed to work. And then for me, I know there was sort of this like I was talking about earlier, this, like, maybe if I try it this way, if I try it that way, as sort of an avoiding of actually, this whole thing isn’t really meant for me.

Speaker A: Right, yeah. And I did. So there was like a time in my practice where I was changing my website. I think I changed different offers maybe like four or five times during that year before I met you. Offering EMDR intensives offering gottman intensives. Well, maybe then I would change it. Maybe if I do this. So I had a similar process to you where I felt like if I change my practice, then perhaps maybe more walk and talk therapy because that became popular in the pandemic and probably wasn’t a thing when you were still in practice. I don’t know.

Speaker B: It was yeah. I never did it, but I thought about it, and I know for some people then that is the solution. It’s another good guess. That was a really good guess. To try that and to give yourself that, to then realize, okay, even with all that, I still want something different. How was it doing? Walk and talk for you?

Speaker A: Yeah, I think it was more of like, you’re in COVID. And I was just trying to see people how I could see them. And so it was more in response to the pandemic that I chose to do that, and then I fell back in the rhythm once the immediate crisis kind of was resolved, because I just closed this March. So I found that people just wanted to come back to the office, and I still had the office, so that’s what they just fell into that. So I didn’t really have that thought, like, oh, I like this. I should do more of this or market this thing. But then I was into marketing the other 10 million offers that I thought would fix my therapy problem. But it was just me not wanting to do therapy anymore. And I had, like, a hot tea or crying session with my own therapist where I was like, I just don’t want to be a therapist anymore. And I was like, that can’t be true.

Speaker B: It can’t be true.

Speaker A: Wow. That can’t be true.

Speaker B: And you’re saying this to a therapist.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker B: How did that feel?

Speaker A: I mean, I’ll still see her. Absolutely love that therapist. You know who you are, realizing this. It felt safe, but it also felt, like, scary. So a lot of fear came in, like, what next? What do I do if I’m not doing mean, it’s? Part of it’s still there. So part of me will still be on Indeed or LinkedIn looking at jobs, and I’m like, well, if this doesn’t work out, maybe I could still go back to therapy. So it’s still there. I mean, it’s not that feeling of scarcity or financial pressure. I feel like I have to kind of thwart, even though there’s no crisis. So it’s more of a perceived danger in my nervous system. So I have to just work on that stuff, bring up my own stuff in my own therapy and continue to work on it. Yeah, but it still happens, and I think that’s normal, especially for therapists who’ve worked with trauma who’ve have their own trauma from the work. Their nervous system might be a little bit different. And I think the therapy room is safe in a lot of ways. We know that’s a way we can earn money. Yeah, right. So it’s that perceived safety of, I’m doing this job because I know I can make money at it, and I don’t know what this other box looks like. I don’t know. That box seems really scary. Yes.

Speaker B: There’s so much to figure out in that box and create, whereas, like a therapy practice, not that I know when someone’s building it, it doesn’t feel easy. In retrospect, it feels relatively easy because it’s a known thing.

Speaker A: You can.

Speaker B: Say I’m a therapist, and if you’re a good therapist and you’re willing to.

Speaker A: Talk about it, yeah, you can fill it. Yeah.

Speaker B: That other box you have to build or find yourself, and it’s totally different. That was a trip for me when I let my therapy license go.

Speaker A: Talk about that.

Speaker B: Just saying, like, I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to take that leap of faith. It’s easy to take the leap of easier to take the leap of faith because my income was already coming from my business strategy work, and I still was like, well, I could just renew and just in case. And then I just really sat with myself, and it felt like a more life affirming choice to let it go. And I asked myself, too, like with that sunk cost fallacy thing, I asked myself, what would I do now if I didn’t have a therapy license? What would I do to get one? And I realized nothing. I wouldn’t do anything to get one. So in that way, it was sort of passed the same test that I use when anything becomes available in my life. And I will ask myself, well, just because it’s here, just because it’s free, just because it’s available isn’t a good reason. What would I do to get this thing if I didn’t already have it? And we do that when we walk by. Yard sales even.

Speaker A: Right?

Speaker B: It drives my spouse crazy. I’m like, but what would you do for that if it wasn’t in your hands right now? So anyway, but for my therapy license, I realized I really wouldn’t do anything for it because it doesn’t fit my it’s not what I want to bring into my future with me. It’s not my career coming up.

Speaker A: Makes sense, but it’s hard. I mean, it’s hard to let it go. It’s hard to say that is completely done. So that means even more of a progression, I think, for a therapist who’s thinking about quitting.

Speaker B: Yeah. Sorry to interrupt you.

Speaker A: Yeah, go.

Speaker B: I mean, I think there’s so many good reasons to keep it for so many people. There is a chance that they’re going to want to make at least part of their money using their therapy license or there’s going to be a job where it would be better to have a therapy license. I’ve talked to people before. I always have to think about, like, as a business strategist. Talking about business, the things that I say are louder. I have this megaphone, and so if.

Speaker A: I do have a microphone, I do.

Speaker B: Have a microphone, but if I say, like, I gave up my therapy license, it can sound like that’s what I think people should do. But actually so I’ve had clients say to me, like, I decided I’m going to keep my therapy license for now, almost apologetically. And I’m like, yeah, let’s talk about why. And then sounds good.

Speaker A: Sounds like a great sounds like, yeah, great. For some people who really feel, like, really drawn to therapy, there’s some therapists that are really burnt out and really just need a shift and a break. It’s okay to just take a break. And if you still feel called to that, then it will be mean. I don’t feel that at all, but I know therapists who feel that way. They feel burnout after the pandemic, and it’s more of I need a break, or I need to change the way I’m doing things.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker A: I think Susanna Horowitz, who I interviewed as well, in the podcast, is doing a therapy focused intensives, EMDR intensives, but very much like using art and expressive therapy. I’m bumping stuff because I’m moving my body, but it just sounds just lovely.

Speaker B: Yes.

Speaker A: And wonderful. I think they feel great having that under their license, and that’s a really great option. And an example of a therapist who feels still drawn to the work. Yeah. And it’s not a bad thing. That’s just what they feel called to do. And their desire. I truly feel like, for Susanna, it’s their desire to do. Absolutely.

Speaker B: Yes. And the therapy license is Susanna’s tool instead of it’s in charge. It’s like going to dictate what they do.

Speaker A: Yeah. Yes. For sure. So I think there’s multiple paths and journeys that therapists have. So there’s not one way to do it, but there’s also permission if you don’t want to do it, too, because no one really talks about this. I find all the marketing out there. Not your marketing, but there’s a lot out there about, like, have $100,000 practice, and that’s the only one way to kind of financially be more secure. And so I find that problematic, especially when I think of new therapists who think that’s my only way to make money. That’s my only way to do this. So I think it’s also the permission that there are other avenues.

Speaker B: And it’s okay if you don’t love having a therapy practice. Like, I needed to know that. I needed to know.

Speaker A: Same.

Speaker B: It’s really okay. This is a great model for some folks, and it’s also really okay if this doesn’t end up being the right one for you.

Speaker A: 100%. So I’m wondering if you can maybe talk about I was in two of your programs, but what you offer for therapists that’s kind of outside that box, because I conceptualize it as being outside the box, but you might say it differently.

Speaker B: Yeah. So the way that I help people is to figure out one experiment to run that’s outside of a private practice. And so the container for doing that is helping folks figure out what is a pilot program that they could run with a particular niche, serving some people that they’re really excited about, and creating something high quality, usually outside of their therapy license. So something like an online program or a retreat or a workshop, that is something that they can dig their teeth into, create, and sell to either even just one person or a small group of people to get the ball rolling quickly. I used to help people in a much more kind of broad, open ended way, like, let’s just start exploring what you might want to do beyond the therapy practice. And now it’s really this, let’s start an experiment and run it quickly, because that’s a way that I find that people can hold the experiment lightly enough and actually get started on it and not get bogged down in perfectionism or in like, is this the perfect choice? It’s like, we really want to just make a good guess and get started in the process. So I’ve got a program that’s ten weeks at this point where people come in and we work on Niching, and then we work on program design, and then we work on marketing. So they’re then able to get some of those foundational business skills under them in doing those pieces.

Speaker A: Yes. And it’s very thorough in my perspective. Yeah. I think that getting started quickly is super important because and there’s no way you can stop me from overthinking anything. That’s just my brain. But I think I’m not the only one, not the only therapist who overthinks and is like, am I doing this the right way? What about my license? You talk a lot about that, but still I think there’s this hesitancy towards doing some kind of out of the box type work. Absolutely.

Speaker B: Yeah. And I think it’s nice for people to be together in that because everybody I’m not everybody, but most people are worried about those things. And we have an attorney come in and answer questions about what might this mean for your particular license? What’s, like, a safer way to do this? What’s your risk tolerance in making these decisions? Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker A: Yeah. I mean, I think in our training, we’re just really taught what not to.

Speaker B: Do all the time. Yes.

Speaker A: Don’t do that, and then don’t do that, and don’t do that and don’t do this. So what can I do? I think for therapists, we’re kind of rule followers, and it feels like, what happens if am I going to harm a client or is someone going to be mad at me? I think there’s a lot of fear there as well, with thinking about different ideas. So I think it’s important to do your due diligence, of course. But also, again, permission permission that no one’s going to come after you is important.

Speaker B: Yeah. And I think it’s so hard sometimes to let yourself find what the desire is when all of those like, but what if but what if? What about my license? What am I allowed to do? Those are really good questions, but sometimes they come in too early and they don’t really allow the desire to even express itself. So yeah, the first few weeks of the container of create your program are really like, we don’t look at the how yet. We don’t look at the legal stuff yet. We start leaning into, why do you want to create this? And who do you want to create this for? And really allowing that desire and that creativity to start coming up.

Speaker A: Yeah. And I just think therapists are awesome people. If you think about what’s sometimes out there for the people that you want to work for and what you can offer, I mean, your therapy skills are so good that the way you can deliver that. Not trying to put, like, one over the other, but I’m just trying to magnify the awesomeness of therapists that we’re often the best people, and we’re going to hold them in an ethical, responsible way. That’s what I find of therapists that I know. Yeah.

Speaker B: And we’re going to know when another kind of referral is needed, and we’re going to know what to look for if we have a program that isn’t the right fit for somebody who comes our way. I feel like we’re in the I mean, I’m still putting myself in this because I still have the training even though I’m not a therapist anymore. It’s like, we’re going to know when we need to recommend something else, and I think that’s huge. So, yeah. Therapists we worry the most about, is this ethical? Can I do this? And we’re probably like, some of the safest people to be doing this work. So it’s that weird thing that I so often find myself in those conversations with people.

Speaker A: Yeah. I think some of the things that make us the best people to do this also make us not want to do it.

Speaker B: Yes. The most afraid.

Speaker A: Most afraid. So it just is it’s just part of the process. But on the other side, I think leaning into curiosity is hard when you’re stuck in that fear and stuck in that burnout place. That’s why I’m working on more the burnout piece with therapists, because I think it’s hard to be curious when your nervous system is in a state of fight or flight all the time or when you’re shut down. I think that piece is important for them to be able to get curious and figure out, oh, yeah, I could totally offer this fun program and do this thing with people. And I just think our work can be so heavy, and having fun feels like that’s not possible. Sometimes, almost whispering it, can I have fun doing this. Wow. Okay. And bring different parts of yourself to work.

Speaker B: Like I don’t know about you, Jen. I feel like in order to be creative, like, to actually create something new, not just sit with clients and create healing, which is incredible, but to step in and create something of your own that you want to teach or that you want to facilitate or, like, to create content like what you’re creating. It’s like, I can’t access that from a burnt out place. I can’t access what’s next. From a burnt out place, I have to find ways to nourish myself and get out of what’s kind of grinding me down in order to even think creatively. If I tried to write something or create, let’s say a solo podcast episode or something from a place of burnout or just like, yuckiness, I can’t create anything. And whatever I do try to create is like crappy and it’s like pulling teeth. I have to be able to get out, get curious, see myself in a bigger context. And then it comes and it’s not always easy, but it’s definitely possible. So yeah, even if we want to, I think we can’t get out of burnout and into creativity without stepping all the way out, like getting some rest, getting some perspective, getting some other inputs.

Speaker A: Yes. And I think it’s hard to recognize that in yourself. For me, my body has to pretty much shut down. I can be very cognitive and so my body has to pretty much get to the point where it’s like we are done. And I’m getting better at that now. But I think the pandemic was a super for many therapists. I think it was an abnormal traumatic thing for all of us, right? And especially those of us who are practicing in the pandemic, to hold that while you’re holding yourself, it was a unique situation. So I think I’ll add that caveat for myself anyway. I don’t know if anybody else feels that way, but that perspective, taking a break and breaks feel great. Just really helps you to figure out. And I think the more I’ve been trying to work in this online business space or podcasting, because I had a podcast before, which I love podcasting, honestly, I just love being able to connect with people in this unique way. I think the more I’m finding out that there is support, there is, I think, hope for something else. And I just want to share that. I think it’s just like I just want to keep sharing that, especially with therapists who do such important work.

Speaker B: What do you find? Do you find there’s some kind of early sign when your body’s starting to tell you it’s needing to shut down?

Speaker A: Well, I think it was just the pandemic was a super, just strange place for me personally because if I think about those natural places where I would find rest were not there. So my faith community or my tennis community, which I love my tennis community, I love to play tennis, that’s my kind of play outlet. I think those natural rhythms in my life were changed. And so then I felt like those places where I got those pockets of rest or renewal and destressing, even the rhythm of my kids being in preschool or school, that them going to school and me having my time that was not present. So again, it’s also I think adding on that caregiver stress of having young children totally at the time. So there was, like, a lot of layers which make it hard for me to tease out during that specific instance. But a lot of times I think just not sleeping or pushing too hard, that’s what I’ve noticed more now. Like, when I feel like I’m pushing or I have to get this done, there’s stretching for something and then there’s overextending, and I feel like I’m learning more now. Like, okay, if I’m sprinting to get something done, I need to have extended rest on the other end of that sprint. That’s really important for my body to not continue to keep running without refueling. If we’re just thinking of even, like, a food perspective, like, what does our body need just from a fuel and output perspective? Yeah, so it wasn’t really a great answer.

Speaker B: No, that was great. Yeah.

Speaker A: Well, I’m mindful of our time that we probably should be wrapping up in the next couple of minutes here, but I thank you so much for coming on the podcast. How can people reach out if they want to learn more about how to get into your world?

Speaker B: Well, thank you so much, and I love your questions. I love this project. I’m so excited that you’re doing this. And, yeah, if people want to get just a taste of getting started with what you might want to create a good spot is Rebeltherapist.me awesome.

Speaker A: I’m sure people will reach out and connect. Well, thank you so much, Annie. I’ve enjoyed this, and I know we’ll be in touch.

Speaker B: Thank you so much, Jen.

Speaker A: Bye bye.

Speaker C: Thank you for listening to the Joy After Burnout podcast. Be the first to hear new episodes by following the podcast in your podcast player. This is an informational podcast only. Any information expressed by the host or guest is not a substitute for legal, medical, or financial advice. One.


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