This is also one of those posts that I need to read as much as anyone. Like most caregivers, I have a busy schedule. So, often self-care gets pushed to the sidelines. That includes seeing a therapist. Yet, seeing a therapist can be the key to self-care. A therapist is a great accountability partner. They can challenge you from an unbiased point-of-view.
How seeing a Therapist increases accountability
I discovered this benefit on accident. One day, I was telling my therapist about how much I missed going to church. It was my own fault. Dan was sick and I was just being lazy. It was easier to stay home than to leave him to go and worship God.
Then, at the end of our session, she said, “What are you going to do for yourself this week?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ll have to think about that.”
“How about you go to church?”
I smiled. That was perfect! This is how a good therapist operates. She (or he) can challenge you to do what you most need to.
Sunday rolled around and I felt like staying in bed so I could snuggle with Dan. Then I thought about my therapist asking me, “So, did you go to church?” I couldn’t bear the thought of saying “no.” So, I dragged my carcass out of bed and went. It was as wonderful as I knew it would be.
So, therapy could be the encouragement you need as you try to avoid burn-out. Yet, a lot of us never get around to giving therapy a try, or we flat out resist it.
“It’s not you. It’s me…”
Have you ever seen a therapist who you just weren’t crazy about? It happens all the time. Not all therapists are created equal. If you don’t “click” with your therapist, don’t give up on therapy, altogether. Instead, be honest and ask for a referral. Therapists are people, too. You aren’t going to like everyone you meet. And you definitely won’t like everyone enough to open yourself up to them and tell them what’s most important to you. Therapists understand this, and they won’t take it personally if you decide they aren’t a good fit. By letting them know what you are looking for, they can help you find the right person for the job.
Other places to get a referral.
Your insurance company can tell you which therapists they will pay for, but they won’t be able to tell you much else. They’ve never met you or the therapists they recommend. To find someone to suit your needs, ask someone who knows you well.
I asked my general practitioner. I had already been through a couple of therapists. One, I loved, but she moved. The other wasn’t right for me. It was clear that she didn’t respect my spiritual needs as an important part of therapy. Yet, I needed to find someone to talk to before I burned out. So, I explained my past experiences to my doctor and she gave me a recommendation. My new therapist turned out to be a perfect fit.
As an introvert, I am very introspective. Yet, there are times when I need an outside viewpoint on how I am handling my life. Sometimes I just want to cry for an hour about the things that I’m afraid of. Other times I need to vent about a frustration. But perhaps the best part of therapy is accountability.
Do you really need a therapist?
If you are caring for a loved one who has cancer—yes! There are so many emotions wrapped up in caregiving that you won’t want to (and probably shouldn’t) share with anyone involved in your life, personally. They have feelings invested in this, too. They aren’t biased and they may not understand the effect that the stress of caregiving is having on you.
You don’t have to go every week unless you want to. I go about once every 6 weeks. I should go more often, but I often have trouble scheduling it around the appointments for my husband and for my daughter. Seeing a therapist is a great way to avoid burnout and stay on track.
I think I will schedule an appointment now.
Once again I will be doing double duty in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I will be sharing ways to avoid burnout, here at Facing Cancer with Grace. At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways of thinking creatively, using Brainsparker’s Kickstart Course of A to Z prompts. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites.
Can you picture a therapist helping you?
What Are Your Thoughts?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker