014: Unraveling 2023: Taking Losses as a Therapist with Burnout and Celebrating Wins

December 21, 2023
Joy After Burnout Podcast Cover Art

In this solo podcast episode, Dr. Jen Blanchett reflects on the year 2023, discussing the wins, disappointments, and lessons learned. She encourages therapists and mental health professionals to celebrate their accomplishments, such as certifications and successful client outcomes.  She also emphasizes the importance of acknowledging personal growth and overcoming mindset challenges.

Dr. Blanchette shares her own experiences with burnout and the journey towards finding joy and purpose again. She encourages listeners to take stock of their wins, losses, and disappointments, and consider the lessons they’ve learned. Sometimes we have to learn to take an L (loss).

Looking ahead to 2024, she explores themes of enoughness, playfulness, and rest, highlighting the importance of self-care and wellbeing amidst the demands of the profession.

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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. Yeah, therapist. Welcome back to the podcast. I had well intended plans to talk with you about your year 2023 inventory. However, I have been sick, and I am really focusing on determination that I had a determination that I was going to do this podcast today. And so I am showing up, and I’m showing up how I need to. And sometimes we just have to show up that way. Come into therapy room, for example, you don’t show up the same therapist every day. Sometimes you’re the depleted version of yourself. I have had to show up multiple times that way as well, so I get that piece. So I hope to just kind of give us some ideas from 2023 and then think about 2024. This is the last episode from me this year, and I hope to have some more guests on. I said that in the last podcast that I gave to you guys, but I want to kind of go over what were our wins in 2023, what were our losses, what were our disappointments, and what can we learn from that, what can we learn from that and what we like to think about going forward for our career or our business. I had wonderful plans to really show up today and have this well thought out podcast, but it’s not happening that way, and that’s okay. So I’m just showing up because I’m really determined to really follow up on my intentions and sometimes with this podcast. I had a podcast previously, as I’ve mentioned, that when things pop up, it’s really easy when it’s just you and a microphone to say who’s listening doesn’t really matter. But I think this does matter, and so I am forging on. So let’s talk a little bit about wins. Wins. So, 2023, I just want you to write down, did you have an accomplishment? Did you get a certification? Did you have a breakthrough in your personal life? Did you have a win in the therapy room? We don’t think about that. But did you have some clients really successfully move through treatment? That is a huge win that we don’t celebrate enough. So take some time to either write it down, reflect. If you have time to write down those wins, pause the podcast and come back to me. So I really recommend you do that. If you’re driving, you’re not pausing, right? We’re just going to continue on and you’re going to think about this. So I’m intentionally being a little slower with my words, so I can give you some time to think about that. So if you’re pausing, pause and just think about those wins, write them down. Take about a couple of minutes to do that. Okay. So if you’re coming back to me, I hope you have written some wins down for me. I got a bunch of certifications this year, so I finally submitted for EMDR certification and I applied for my the, which I always forget what that is, consultant and training through MDRIA, which is the EMDR, International association of EMDR. Did I also get my certified brain injury specialist? I think I did. So I’d been meaning to apply for that for years. I just wanted to get a bunch of certifications because I was like, I don’t know where my career is taking me. I also got a personal training certification, so I was a little bit just trying to figure out all the things closing the practice this year. So I think that’s great that I did that. I’m not using really any of those currently, but I don’t take it as a loss. I’m taking that as a win. I know that those are skills that I’ll always have. And just like your degree, right? Our degrees, our certifications are skills that we can continue to have in other roles. Also wins with your own personal development. So did you overcome some stuff in your mind? I did. I really did. I haven’t really determined if I’m going to cuss on this podcast, but anyway, I will say it in a nice way. I have just stopped giving so many shooks, you know what I mean, about things. I feel like a lot of my life, I have thought about other people ahead of myself, as a wife, as a mother, as a student, as a therapist. You’re trained, and if you’re a woman as well. We are socialized to defer to others needs and not really think about our own needs, honestly. So I always have told my clients, sometimes you need to be selfish, and if you’re dealing with burnout and if you are kind of facing a lot of these changes, it’s totally okay to be selfish, especially if you are a non selfish person. Please be selfish. You need to be. I think we don’t think about those mindset wins or those psychological wins, wins in our brain. And you know what happened when I really tapped into more of that, somewhat of not caring so much of what other people thought, but also really leaning into worthiness? I play tennis, and I would really get down on myself when I would play poorly from my perspective, or I’d miss a shot. And I play competitively, amateur competitively, but it’s still competitive. And I just have this mantra I’ve been telling myself this year. When I play, it doesn’t matter, like, you’re enough. It’s enough if you miss the serve. If you miss the shot, you’re not bad. You’re not a bad player. It doesn’t mean anything about you. Because I kept noticing this theme of when I played poorly, that I’d be embarrassed, that I would feel like other people would think I’m a bad player or a bad. Like, I just couldn’t win. And so I really took stock of that and just really tried to enjoy playing more because I think for us high achieving folks, winning, like you got through school, right, you took a long time to build the skills to be a therapist. That takes dedication, that takes time, that takes effort. And we’re used to winning. We’re not used to failing. We’re used to achieving. And so as a high achiever, I think that translated into relationships into my play as well. And so I really have tried to be intentional about play being fun and not work because I tend to make everything work. So that’s also this. I’m wanting to have more fun with podcasting, too, and I think that’s like talking to people and interviewing. I love that part of it. Even though they tell you to be an expert on your podcast and you need to have solo episodes, there’s so much marketing stuff out there. Anyways, I digress. So I just wanted to share that win, and that was huge. So, moving on to disappointments, I want you to think about things that didn’t go so well this year. Did you lose something? Did you have maybe a treatment failure? Not a failure of you, but maybe there were some difficult experiences in your clinical life or professional life. Difficulty with a boss, perhaps? I know I had that on internship. It was a really rough year. When I was an intern, I was targeted, and I had called my school to tell them, I don’t know if I’m going to make it through this doctoral program. Perhaps you’re dealing with some of that. Are you dealing with any personal relational failures or losses? So either a death of a person, a divorce, a loss of a relationship, friendship, or romantic thinking about all of that. So I just want you to, again, take some time, pause the podcast. If you are able to, pause. If you’re not, go back and do this. Think about it. So come back to me. All right? So when you are thinking about those disappointments when you looked at them. For me, closing my practice, that was a huge one. It was a death in some ways, like a death of a dream or a death of something. I built. I built that private practice when I had a six month old baby. I couldn’t go back to work because he had heart surgery. And I really felt like I was going to figure it out. And I kept trying to create group practice situations, kept wanting to make groups and be in groups and do all of that, and it never happened. And that was hard. I wasn’t able to build the thing that I dreamed of. So I had to take the l. I had to take the loss. And while that sucked, and it was a dumpster fire of sorts, I also know that it was the best choice for me. It was the best choice for me. And what I’m learning from that experience is that you can try something and it can run its course. So either you try it and it’s immediately that’s a no, or it can no longer work for you. So at some point, my private practice was working for me, and then it didn’t. So I really took stock of. This is a really important life lesson in knowing when something isn’t working for me anymore and changing it, ending it, moving on. That is hard, because I think a lot of us clinicians, we’re really loyal people, we’re committed people. So if you’re working for an agency or a group practice and you’re not your own boss, I think you can feel maybe like you’re not loyal to them or some other kind of thing that we might tell ourselves, right? And if it’s your own practice, I think you are your own boss. And that is the detriment and the curse, because you don’t have the natural guardrails in your private practice that you might have in an employee situation. Like, at the end of the day, you don’t have to worry about keeping the lights on. You don’t have to worry about paying for XYZ. And while you may not have an income, while the income might not be great, there’s things you don’t have to think about. Also think about other losses, any personal losses that you suffered. I know that a couple of years back, in 2020, I lost two clients. I talked about that in a couple of episodes previous in the secret grief episode. And so that was a really difficult part of my 2020, and it took a long time to kind of deal with that grief, and it still comes in waves, like grief does. Grief is a reflection of the person we loved and we cared for. And if that person was our client, then that grief is similar in a process, but it is very different because we can’t openly grieve. So check out that secret grief episode. If you didn’t hear that. I think it’s really helpful. I think when I had that loss in 2020, what I sat with initially was, I can’t manage that pain. Like, I don’t know who I’m going to get attached to in therapy. And that’s human, right? Our attachments that we form in therapy, they aren’t cut and dry. We aren’t just able to say, okay, that’s the therapy room. This is my personal life, and I’m just going to put that other thing in a box. It doesn’t work like that. It just doesn’t. Kids are knocking out the door, so I have limited time. So, anyway, I just want you to think through the losses and maybe think about the lesson. Like, what was the lesson from that loss, whether it was taking the loss. Those things, I think, are really important for us to think about and then thinking about 2024, thinking about changes you need to make. So what might those changes be? For me, I think I’ve been chasing the edge of burnout for much of this year, so I’ve been really scared about becoming burned out again. So I think 2021 was my burnout year, and then I’ve been kind of like skating around it ever since. And so I really want to feel a sense of thriving in 2024 and that I know that I won’t fall back into it. And I have, I think, touched those edges in my consulting work. So I think part of that is, for me, maybe some theme that I need to work on is enoughness, that I have enough, either that income wise, like the consulting work that I’m doing, it is providing enough income. But I worry. I think about all those worst case scenarios happening, kids going to college and my 30 year old house having repairs and all the things that come to my mind that make me worry, that makes me want to have more safety financially in independence and also want more things, not really things, but maybe different experiences. And so I think sitting with enoughness and also knowing when I’m striving for things that I don’t need to rush as much. So for you, I’d like to think about what are themes that you’re taking out of losses and those wins? What made you feel really in touch with yourself this year? And I’m not talking about this so much. But I hope to do this inventory in a different way next year where I really also look at how did we play this year? What were those experiences that were playful and joyous and free? And those are hard for me to pull in my memory bank even just saying that right now, actually think I can. So one experience that I came up with was learning to ski. And so I’m about to go into that. I’m scared. Like, I’m over 40, learning to ski. It scares me. But it was also really fun and just really enjoying, enjoying that newness of something. I think also with tennis for me, I get on the court and I really just feel pretty free there. So more of that. And I’m also thinking about returning to group fitness instruction. So I did that. I taught like three to four classes pre pandemic. So it’s just something that makes me feel alive and free and I’m playing with that. I’m having a good time. Those experiences are really important. And then also thinking about rest, like restoration, like what are those experiences that are helping me rest, helping me recharge? Like deep, really true, deep rest. And for me, that’s having spaciousness on a Monday, being able to do my yoga class, being able to take walks with my dog. Very simple things, things rooted in mindfulness that we all know. But then a life pace just continues to speed up. So anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed just kind of reflecting on your year and thinking about maybe some themes that you want to focus on for next year. If you’re dealing with burnout, I do have a freebie. I’m developing another one that’s a little more money focused and career focused. So certainly look out for that. But you can check for the link in the show notes here and that will provide all the links to contact me, including my website. If you want to reach out to me through there, that’s www.drjenblanchette.com. I’d love to hear from you and just see what’s going on with you in your world, burnout wise, career wise, or whatever, until 2024. I wish you a happy new year. Happy holidays. Take care. 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.


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