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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

It’s Time for a Vacation - When You Need a Break as a Therapist

I recently shared with my fellow therapist that I feel like I haven’t been as good as a therapist as I normally am.


She provided space for me to explore why. There was little evidence or change in my personal efforts to show this was actually the case, but I couldn’t shake the cloudy, nebulous feeling that I wasn’t showing up as powerfully as I normally do.


"Time for a break" Acrylic painting by Jackie Schuld

She gently responded, “I think it’s time for a vacation.”


The moment she said it I knew she was right.


I love the work I do, but I had been feeling less excitement about going to work. I also was losing creative fire for my essay writing, which is usually related to the therapeutic work I do. In addition, I was no longer able to accurately assess my effectiveness as a therapist. All of these things were clear signs I needed a break.


Sometimes I don’t think I need a vacation. My caseload is so small (8-10 clients) that it doesn’t have much of an energetic impact on me. Furthermore, my days are filled with an immense amount of ease. I typically have the mornings to myself and then go into my art therapy studio in the afternoon. I see 2-3 clients, and then head home in time for dinner.


It’s a delightful schedule, so I often feel like, “What’s the need for a vacation?”


I understand the value of traveling and seeing friends, which I am able to do on the three days I have off from work (I typically work M-Th).


So when it comes to a vacation, it feels like the only thing that differentiates it from my normal life is not seeing clients.


Maybe that is just the thing needed.


Although I only have 8 clients, I still mentally prepare for them each week. I still think deeply about them, prepare for our sessions, hold the sessions, and then reflect and process afterward.


I think the brain needs periods of refreshment, of doing things differently. Breaking out of the norm and giving it space to do something different. To also step away and gain a different perspective.


I think a proper parallel would be boredom. Boredom is wonderful for creativity. If we allow ourselves to experience it, we come up with new things to do.


As I write this essay, it is Monday and my vacation starts Friday. I have no idea what this vacation will bring me, but I’m going to trust it’s just the thing I need.

 

Follow Up: My vacation was wonderful and I returned to my therapeutic work excited and reenergized.

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