Counseling Today just published an article I wrote about how some therapist moms and dads balance their work with busy home lives. As a part of the DCTherapistMoms group locally, I was expecting to find similar support networks for therapists around the country. While I certainly found a lot of people expressing a need for such a forum (a balance of networking, information-sharing, and commiserating), I was surprised to find no other formal groups serving this population.
It’s true that most of us in the mental health community participate our own professional networks. I personally subscribe to listservs for Imago therapists both locally and nationally, have case consultations with my colleagues, and meet weekly with a peer supervision group. With email, listservs and other social media we have ways to find nearly-immediate answers to any case-related questions that might come up. But in my research I realized how lucky I am to live in a city that offers so many outlets for supervision and continuing education (not to mention many outlets that support all parent/professionals, which is another important issue).
Access to these resources have become a key part of the self-care routine that helps me be available to my clients and present in the work we get to do together. Just typing this has made me think this through a little more, however. Access to such resources is important for therapists, but also for all people, whatever their circumstances. Yalom included “instillation of hope,” “universality,” and “imparting of information” among his list of the therapeutic gifts of group therapy. We certainly seek these things from our friends and family members – often finding exactly what we were looking for, it’s true. But sometimes, engaging with a group of people to whom you have no other connection (or obligation) can provide the fastest path to having those supportive needs met. My colleagues have quite a few excellent groups available for just this exact purpose. The right group, at the right time, and with the right leadership, really can make you feel part of something and really make your life better.