018: Burnout Reframe: What it means to Quit

March 4, 2024
Joy After Burnout Podcast Cover Art

Winners never quit…spoiler alert, they do! In this episode, the host reflects on her recent vacation and the challenges of traveling with children. She discusses the clinical responsibility of holding a caseload and the difficulty of leaving work behind. The theme of quitting is explored, with the host emphasizing that quitting is not a sign of weakness but a testament to strength and self-awareness. She encourages therapists to make strategic decisions and offers support and coaching for those considering a change in their practice or career.


  • Traveling with children can be challenging, but as they grow older, it becomes easier.
  • The clinical responsibility of holding a caseload can be emotionally and mentally draining.
  • Therapists should choose clients they can best serve and consider discharging clients who are not meeting treatment goals.
  • Quitting is not a sign of weakness but a strategic decision that demonstrates strength and self-awareness.
  • Therapists should reframe their perspective on quitting and make choices that align with their well-being and career goals.

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Speaker A: 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 B: Hey, therapist. Welcome back to the program. I’m glad to be here. It’s been a minute since I’ve been on the mic, we have been dealing with sickness and vacations. That’s a good thing. But I think, like, one child had COVID one week and then the other child had COVID the next week, and then my husband had COVID the following week. The week before that, I was traveling and then we were going on vacation. So we just went back. We just came back rather, from the Bahamas. And that’s where I got, I, you know, held it together all of that time, taking care of everybody and then got sick on our Bahamas vacation. So that’s, know, people get sick. It’s not a big deal. I mean, it’s a bummer of, you know, you have to kind of laugh at life a little bit and laugh at those experiences. Know, paying for a babysitter to watch your kids in the Bahamas and then going out to this really nice dinner, looking forward to this really nice dinner for months, and then carrying like a treasure trove of cold medicines, tissues, cough drops to the dinner. So I’m just going to laugh at that now because it’ll be funnier later, right when I look back on memories of that trip. So it was a little bummer, but I was having a cold looking up at palm trees, and that’s not too bad, right? Not too bad. And I think for you, I was reflecting, I thought about the podcast and therapists in general when I was there, and this vacation for me felt like a very different vacation. So let me just back up. So I think I’ve talked in the podcast before. I’m a mom of two boys, and maybe I haven’t talked about this because I’ve really found that I don’t really like to travel that much anymore because of children. Because traveling with children is hard. And there’s many times when I’ve been traveling when they were younger, now they’re older, they’re middle childhood. And so it is a lot easier to travel. I’m not going to say it’s not easier than it was when they were real little. When I see parents of babies and really little ones, I just feel so bad because it’s just a hard day for them. And I remember those hard days of traveling and trying to hold all that together juggling the stroller and all the stuff, and then people look at you sideways because you’re sitting next to a baby. Oh, I get it now. I get it now. So it is much easier. It is much easier to travel with older children who have their little devices, and they can do that on the plane, that’s fine. But I think traveling, I’d build up travel to be really hard in my mind. So traveling equals hard, which means vacations equal hard and means I was really not looking forward to vacations for a while because it just felt like I’m not going to rest. I might be up all night because someone gets sick on vacation or someone can’t sleep and acts like a feral cat. Some **** like that would happen every single time on vacation. And usually one of my children who gets bronchitis typically always has a cough when we’re traveling. And did on this trip as well, up till 02:00 a.m. One night. And we had to shell out a bunch of money to get him a steroid on vacation, which was not surprising, but it was much better than it was when he was much younger. So I say all that to say, sometimes you’re in a season where you just can’t expect it to be easier than it is, right? So if you’re building a practice, for example, as a therapist, if you’re a new parent, that’s just a difficult season. And I think we can conceptualize that for our clients. But I think it’s just a human thing to kind of Zoom backwards and say, oh, if life was only like it was before I had kids on vacation. And then you hear all the people tell you, don’t blink, it’s going to be over soon, enjoy it all. And you want to stab them because, sorry, I shouldn’t use those words, but you’re giving them all the looks because, you know, it’s not easy that day. So anyway, I digress, but this vacation was easier, and I’ll tell you why it was easier, because I didn’t have a job that was stressing me out, that I carried with me on the vacation that was new. So I think before that, and probably last year too, but I think I was a little bit still in career limbo. Like, is this going to work out with the job that I have now? And then doing this podcast thing with this podcast is really just a love letter to you guys. Honestly, that’s what it is right now. I hope it might become something at some point, but if it doesn’t, then it can just be a love letter. And if I reach one or two therapists with this love letter, then that is fabulous. Then I put some good out in the world, and I’m happy about that. I lost my train of thought on that. So this vacation was easier because I didn’t have really, and I think I crystallized this today in a conversation that I had with one of the therapists that I’m working in a coaching capacity, is the clinical responsibility of holding a caseload, holding your clients, literally. So we hold them in therapy, but we still continue to hold them. And that responsibility, I think we carry that into all of our lives. You know that you’re a therapist, you get that piece. And I think there’s just so much that feels like you can’t leave it, you can’t set it down, because what if, right? What are all the what ifs? What is it? What if someone goes into Cris? What if? All the things, those what ifs, I think, make it really hard for us to see it as a job that at 05:00 punching the clock, I’m out of here. I think some of us even fantasize about having a job like that. I talked with someone today who was talking about just wanting to be a receptionist instead of a therapist because, wow, their job is probably really psychologically easier because they have that job. At the end of the day, they are done. And so I think there’s ways that we can make that easier. There’s ways that we can make that easier if we’re choosing to continue in our practice. So a lot about what I talk about is, and I’m going to do a deep dive, I think, into the clinical side of managing your practice differently. So really trying to align your caseload to the clients that you can best serve, that’s one way it’s not always possible because someone’s always going to throw a curveball in therapy. You think, okay, I’m going to see this type of client, and this is the client I can really serve. But what I found is that you still never know. A client can present one way, an intake or on the phone, and then they walk through your door and all the things come out right. That’s just part of therapy, because people naturally hold things right. We’re not going to put all of our cards on the table in our first session, at least as a client, I don’t. My therapist knows quite a bit about me now, though, I will have to say. But I think there’s just some things that come up that we can’t prepare for. And that’s just also part of the work that’s really difficult. So I just want to encourage you guys that sometimes things are just hard and there’s nothing we can do about the hard. So if we can’t necessarily change what therapy is, because we can always, we can try to choose those clients that we can be best suited to help. We can discharge clients that are not meeting treatment goals, that are likely draining our therapeutic and personal resources. That’s another thing that we can do as therapists, but it doesn’t go away, that responsibility clinically. And really, I kind of see it as that attachment we have with the client while they are in our lives. It is very intimate. It is very personal. I often think about my relationship with my therapist. I think about her. I think about the investment that she’s put into me and how I appreciate her so very much. And I know not all clients can say that to us as therapists, but that relationship means a lot to me, even though that person is not in my life. Yeah, I think I just had those reflections from vacation and from thinking about this was so much different because I am not working as a therapist now, although I have one client in my other job. But it still feels very different because it’s just a little part of what I do, and it’s not me managing a private practice either. So it just feels very different. And I’m kind of excited again to do a little bit of therapy in my role. Stay tuned for how that’s going. I think I might run a group as well and just try that on. So also, it’s just trying experiments, trying different things to see if that can be part of what works for you. That was a big part of the changes that I made when I knew I couldn’t do private practice anymore, is that I was like, well, I guess I’m going to try these different things. And for a long time, I saw them as failures, including two podcasts that I put out in my good space. When I’m in my good mental space, I tell myself, you are trying things, and a lot of people don’t try things, and that is something. And so I just want to encourage you because I think we are all our own worst critic and judge and jury. So just notice all the good work you’re doing in the world in therapy, with your families, all of it. It’s so important. So that is just my personal tidbits. This vacation was much more expansive for me. It was easier travel. My kids are older, there were still some meltdowns. It wasn’t the picture of perfection. There were still days I was like, why are we doing this? All of that was happening at the same time. I also had many moments where I was just being human, existing. I had a glorious lunch by myself where they were playing, like, some house music, and I had a poke bowl at an adult only pool at the hotel. It was magical. I wish my husband could have been there with me, but I just really relish that experience in being in warm weather. I live in a cold climate in the winter, so it was great. Anyway, you got to grab those glimmers. That’s from polyvagal theory. More Deb Dana stuff. Grab those for yourself. So I wanted to kind of talk a little bit about the theme today of quitting. I’m going to talk about a post that I put up on LinkedIn. If you’re not on LinkedIn, or if you’re not doing anything on LinkedIn, follow me there. But then you won’t. Also, I’m on Instagram, too, but I don’t post as much on there lately. I don’t know, I’m just liking. I know some old colleagues on LinkedIn, and I’m just kind of liking the vibe over there. It feels like there’s text based posts like, who does that anymore? But I don’t know. I just like it. So if you’re on LinkedIn, find me Jennifer Blanchette, Psyd licensed psychologist. That’s my profile. So I post on there about therapy stuff, burnout, some neurodiversity stuff, too. I’m a certified brain injury specialist. I won’t put all my certifications on there anyway. So I put this post, and I started with, we’ve all heard that winners never quit, but let me tell you, sometimes they do, and that’s perfectly okay. So I think in our society, we have glorified that sticking with something, regardless of what it does to us, is good. Like, it’s good to stick through something and not give up, never quit. That is the goal, that we just stay in something forever. That makes zero sense in real life. As therapists, we often help people through difficult relationships and experiences. And sometimes a lot of the work that I’ve done with clients and my own personal work has been to let something go. And there’s multiple things as therapists we need to let go of. So that may be letting go of your own expectations for yourself. In therapy room, I read another. It’s like all the themes of quitting were happening on this week. So I read a post that I found on Instagram. No, it was on LinkedIn. It was a LinkedIn post. And they were kind of saying that sometimes you do b level work as therapists and that’s okay to not expect a level therapy from yourself every day, because we’re human, we’re going to show up imperfect, and we might have had a really difficult day. Maybe your kids stayed up all night. Maybe you had a death in your family. Maybe you’re sick and you feel awful. You’re not going to show up the same way every day. And as therapists, we’re often overachievers. We got an A on all those tests. We tried to ace our licensing exam. There are a lot of hurdles. We had to come to get to the place of being a therapist. And there’s so much doubt that I find in my fellow therapists. We really doubt ourselves and doubt our ability and feel like, well, we have to do it this way. We have to see 20 clients a week or we have to stay in this job, because that’s the only path that we have. If you’re an agency or you’re in a group practice that, well, there’s no other path than this path. I find that we are especially. What’s the word I’m looking for? Prone, I think, to not quitting. As therapists, we’re prone to digging in and really like growing into the carpet. Most therapists I know like stability. There’s a good reason for that. We like stability as therapists because we are taking care of people, we are helping them through really difficult things. So we move slowly. We think deliberately about the choices we make in our career, in our lives, because of the ramifications of the change in our life, of what that can have on our clients. So it’s important that we don’t move quickly. It makes a lot of sense that we wouldn’t want to cut and run from a practice, or we wouldn’t want to just up and leave a job. Although I’ve done that only once. Only once. That was because my first son had heart surgery and I could not go back to work. And so that was only one situation which is more life driven. Most of the time, I find that therapists, unless there’s some kind of like major medical crisis in their life, they stick with it. They kind of grow into the carpet, like I said, have the million plants in their office. And I admire that. I admire that ability to stick with something and also notice that part of myself that really felt like, committed to the work and committed to the people. And I think both things can be true, right? We can really want to stay committed to our therapeutic work, our clients, and also need something else. Those things can exist at the same time. And sometimes it works that some therapists can stay in their role as therapists, and other times it means it’s a total departure. And I know that I’m not the only one who is in this quandary, or was in this quandary, of not knowing what to do next, of knowing, like, there is no way I can do any more one to one sessions. I have to find some kind of different thing to do. I can’t do it like this anymore. I’ve heard that from so many of you, so please know you’re not alone and it’s okay to reach out and ask for support. So I made this parallel. So for many years, I’ve talked about this. I worked with clients with brain injuries, so that was a big part of what I did. I was trained in her rehab, and part of my role as a therapist for someone post brain injury was really grief work. And working with loss, they often had to give up many things. They loved thinking of one particular person who was really active, just all kinds of sports, like snowboarding, biking, all these things. And I remember a moment where they kind of were giving everything away that they couldn’t do anymore. They even told me, don’t worry about me, I’m safe. I just realized that I need to let these things go because I know I can’t do them anymore. And I’ve come to the realization that I want somebody else to use them. I want somebody else to enjoy them because I can’t anymore. And I need to free myself of that. And it was a great moment in therapy for them to actually get to that realization. But deciding that they had to stop and that life is different now took many years. That was like at year seven post brain injury for them, that they came up with that. And early in the process, there was a lot of fear, feelings of failure, and inadequacy with how the injury had changed them and also feeling defeated by their brain injury. So I liken that often into when I find therapists are deciding to make the decision to leave therapy or deciding to quit their practice, or deciding to quit doing their practice in the way they were doing before. Maybe that’s leaving insurance, maybe that’s continuing to take on clients that are stressing them out. It’s only natural for us to go to that place of shame. You’re not good enough. You’re not a good therapist. You can’t hack this. You’re a failure. I even had this thought because I’m still in mental health technically, but I’m not in the role as a therapist that I did this sidestep because I’m a psychologist, I can do evaluation. I don’t have to do therapy, that I didn’t have to completely change and do another career. So even in that, like, oh, you didn’t have to leave. But just all this mind drama, I feel like that we get into when really we can just see it as, like, I think I’ve summed it up more recently where I’ve told people I like my job. I like my job. That’s crazy craziness, right? I like my job. I’ve told people that I’ve liked my job recently, and that’s pretty cool in many ways. But also, I’m kind of reframing my choice to leave private practice. Not as quitting lately, but more as I found that being in private practice and being alone and not around people is just not working for me. Just didn’t work for me. And when we think about relationships, too, if we ended a relationship with a previous partner, we don’t necessarily like to say, like, I got dumped or I dumped them or I quit them, or we don’t use those words often, unless there was some trauma there, right. Then we maybe said we had to cut and run. It was a really difficult situation, and I just had to leave them. It’s over. I quit that relationship. Okay, fair enough. But many times we’ll kind of say, like, we grew apart or we decided to break things off because it wasn’t serving either one of us or, you know, it just wasn’t working anymore. That’s the truth. And so I want you to really think about, like, what is not working. Can I make it work? Does my role with my private practice or my role as a therapist, can I make it work? Some therapists really want to stay in it, and they can, and it’s great, and they want to do that work. And for other people, it’s not. They just need to make that pivot away. So I’d have you think about that, like, in the terms of the relationship you’re having with yourself as a therapist and in the work, can you work on it or can you not work on it? And that takes time to figure it out. So you don’t have to just make a decision, by the way, you can start to make little choices, little moves and to see if it can change. So I would just leave you with this thought. Quitting isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a testament of our strength and self awareness. Let me say that again. Quitting isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a testament to our strength and self awareness. I want you to think about strategic quitting. Choosing to quit, choosing to leave. Choosing to pivot is another way to put it. Reframing this burnout language of quitting, possibly for yourself. Because when we hear those words quit, I think we think I’m a failure and shame and therapist. I hope you can hear this because I just hate that for the therapists that are struggling with this, that they feel like they’re not enough and you did not fail at all. I think there’s so many things that are stacked against us for it to have us have this work. Some of that is pay, some of that, I think the biggest is the health care system that’s broken. So I want you to think through what changes you need to make in the context of this relationship with yourself and with the work I see you. I know it’s lonely. Reach out to me for support so you can send me an email. That’s at info@drjenblanchat.com two t’s and an E. I also do free consults for 20 minutes, so I’ll link that in the show notes. So there’ll be a link for a 20 minutes consult. So if you feel like you do need support with this, I do offer coaching for therapists and on a whole host of things for getting your health back after burnout. I’m a yoga teacher, a personal trainer. I teach fitness classes. So that’s a whole wellness side of things that I do for therapists as well as figuring out the business end of it. Can I fix this practice or do I need to ramp up my resume and really think about something else? All that. I’m for it. I’m in it with you. I see you talk soon.

Speaker A: 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. Close.


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