Psychologists are not immune from the same personal problems that affect the general population such as relationship issues, job stress, financial difficulties, grief, illness, depression, anxiety and burnout. As professionals we need to model and encourage self-care including peer support, seeking therapy, taking personal time etc and it is important that we accept and recognize our own limits and boundaries.
As a profession we need to support ourselves and our colleagues to seek out preventative and early interventions and to de-stigmatize help-seeking behavior. In addition, research has shown that by participating in professional supervision, developing support networks, and seeking help when you need it, reduces the risk of professional impairment.
In recognition of this, the APS is developing a package of self-care resources for members. This has already begun with the development of the Peer Consultation Networks, which all members are encouraged to join. In addition, other suggestions under development are:
The addition of web-based resources for members aims to encourage and assist psychologists in managing their own self-care.
The Therapist Belief Scale is a screening tool that asks clinicians to reflect on the automatic thoughts they have about their work. This tool offers clinicians the opportunity to reflect on their own practice. The resulting scores on the scale offer a spectrum of risk of burnout, with higher scores indicating greater risk. It is noted that the authors of the Therapist Belief Scale do not offer cut-off points to indicate a point whether an individual is at risk of burnout. However, therapists are encouraged to use this tool as a process of self-reflection.
Reference: McLean, S., Wade, T.D. & Encel, J. (2003). The Contribution of Therapist Beliefs to Psychological Distress in Therapists: An investigation of Vicarious Traumatisation, burnout and symptoms of avoidance and intrusion. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 31, 417-428.
Scoring: (1) low tolerance of distress – 10 items (1, 2, 11, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24); (2) rigid adherence to therapeutic model – 6 items (4, 5, 10, 16, 25, 27); (3) beliefs of responsibility – 7 items (3, 6, 9, 14, 19, 26, 29); (4) need for control and understanding – 6 items (7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 28).
Therapist Belief Scale (McLean, S. & Wade, T.)
As psychologists we are excellent at promoting the benefits of health and well-being to our clients but often fail to follow that advice ourselves. As part of the self-care initiative, members are encouraged to develop strategies for developing physical and emotional good health.
Further information can be found by visiting the website of the Dieticians Association of Australia at www.daa.asn.au.
Also, the Better Health Channel which provides reliable up to date health information developed in partnership with leading health organisations, including the APS.