Self-care is emphasized, and sometimes overemphasized in graduate school. Many of us are required or encouraged to engage in our own psychotherapy during the internship/externship process as an introduction to the importance of attending to one’s own needs.
The underlying rationale is twofold:
1. We can’t help others if we have significant unresolved emotional and cognitive residue stemming from our personal experiences.
2. We need to understand the patient’s perspective and the importance of the therapeutic relationship from their vantage point.
Therapeutic engagement is one approach to self-care. We are encouraged to remain present and balanced across emotional, physical, and spiritual domains throughout the duration of our careers. We become more present, balanced, and engaged in the therapeutic process when we attend to self-care. Unfortunately, we often let the concept and practice of self-care fall by the wayside which lends to emotional fatigue and occupational disengagement.
Ultimately, the behavior and practices that we model are not always spoken but felt in our words and are exemplified in our actions; modeling self-care is of vital importance for our own mental health and for the mental health of those we serve.