Burnout: The thing we’re not supposed to talk about

Today I want to talk to you about something that seems to be a four-letter-word among mental health professionals...


I'm sure you've felt it before. Maybe recently. Maybe you feel it right now.

I feel like burnout is this thing we're not supposed to talk about because we're supposed to be the centered, healed, differentiated, and balanced version of our clients: Like perfect role models.

We spend our days advocating for boundaries and work-life balance only to come home and crash in front of Netflix while we try to convince ourselves to finish our notes.

We talk about the importance of self-care and then work ourselves into the ground as wehustle to build our practices. We tell ourselves, "I'll take a day off once I get just a few more clients," or we make excuses for allowing ourselves to put ourselves last on our list.

We work and work and stretch ourselves thin only to crash and then shame ourselves for not being able to do it all. For being lazy. We see other therapists who are just crushing it and we somehow convince ourselves that until we get to that place, we just have to keep going.

So we keep listening to all of the podcasts,

reading all of the blogs,

and following all of the Facebook groups.

The other day I was talking to one of my therapist friends about burnout...

I realized that therapists, of all people, know how to recognize burnout in other people but fail miserably when it comes to seeing it in ourselves.

Not only that, but it's one of those four-letter-words in our industry, and there's such a negative stigma to admit that we're feeling burned out. It's almost like we get shamed for it, like we should have seen it coming and done something to prevent it. Like maybe if we had better boundaries or practiced more self-care, burnout wouldn't happen.

Well I call BULLSHIT.

Entrepreneurial burnout is real regardless of your industry, and it's about time we talk about it and quit judging each other (and ourselves) for it. You can have the most regimented self-care practice and space your clients 30 minutes apart, and it can still happen. You can leave your laptop at the office and refuse to check your email over the weekend, and it can still happen. You can go for a walk, do yoga, practice mindfulness, and even go on vacations twice a year, and it can still happen.

Today I don't want to talk about how to prevent burnout, because all that does is reinforce the stigma.

Instead, I want to talk about what to do once you realize you're experiencing burnout. That seems much more applicable for my readers, as many of you have spent the last 6 months (or 2 years) hustling to the point where you're not even sure you want to keep going.


1. Talk to someone (and not just anyone)

Once you realize your feeling burned out, talk to someone about it. And not just anyone. At some point you'll want to talk to your spouse, your parents, your non-therapist friends, or your pet. But not first.

First, I want you to talk to someone who gets it on a deep level, someone who's been there and who is going to listen to you without telling you that you just "need to do more self-care," or that you "really should have better boundaries." That shit isn't helpful when you're feeling burned out.

It can be a close therapist friend, your own therapist, your mentor, or your business coach. I don't recommend starting with your spouse, parents, or non-entrepreneur friends, because they'll just give you advice that sounds condescending (out of love, but still). 

2. Take an honest look at your expectations for your business

Did you think that you could fill your cash-based practice with 20 clients in 6 weeks because some asshat on a sponsored ad told you that you could? Did you think that absorbing every piece of free content on the internet as fast as humanely possible was going to help you quickly quit your soul-sucking agency job and go full-time private practice?

If you're running yourself ragged thinking that your practice will grow faster if you just do a little more, work a little harder, or stay up a little longer, you're wrong. Practices grow when we confidently show up energized, not when we frantically run to each new marketing strategy we learn about on a Youtube video.

I find that many therapists are so afraid of failure that they don't ever let themselves slow down. If fear of failure is something that keeps coming up for you, check out my blog post on How to Deal with Failure in Private Practice (it's a good one). 

3. Make a list

Third, I want you to make a list of what you used to do that you enjoyed (I use the words used to because I'm making the general assumption that you've forgotten what you like doing. Your life has been reduced to practice-building and vegging out in front of a screen to distract yourself from the noise in your head).

Maybe you used to cross stitch, or play the clarinet, or wander in the woods. Whatever. Make a list. Fill an entire page, with ideas flowing in every direction because fuck college ruled notebook paper.

4. Get out your blindfold

No, I don't mean that in some kinky way. I want you to close your eyes and run your finger around that page, like you just spun a globe and are trying to figure out where your next destination might be. When you stop at an idea, I want you to make it your mission this week to make time for that thing.

Even if that means skipping a podcast episode this week.

Even if that means missing an episode of "Orange is the New Black."

Because I want you to have a badass therapy practice, and that can't happen if you keep running yourself into the ground.

There's no shame in saying that you feel burned out.

The truth is, many of us are and we just don't acknowledge it because we're afraid of being criticized or having our clinical judgment called into question. I think entrepreneurial burnout happens to every entrepreneur at one time or another. It doesn't mean we need to leave our industry, and it definitely doesn't mean we're not amazing therapists.

I wanted to start this conversation because I see too many therapists running from it, and coaches are afraid to talk about it too.

Comment below and tell me the ONE thing you're going to focus on doing more of this week. What is that thing you used to love doing that you're going to carve time out for this week? Let's start the conversation.


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