Do you ever feel like your energy has just drained out of you? Sometimes it is due to lack of sleep, or a frantic schedule. For me, the emotions involved in being a therapist tend to drain me. Usually it isn’t the clients or the sessions though.
I’m talking about the part of therapy outside of the sessions. This involves writing progress notes, completing diagnostic evaluations, writing letters, and treatment planning. It’s a necessary part of the job, and I benefit from the “administrative” end of therapy. Documenting my sessions and treatment planning help me remember where I am and where my clients are in the process. Writing out my “therapy thoughts” also help me clarify what actually happened and what it might mean. Making phone calls also isn’t too bad, and writing letters on behalf of clients almost always help them feel better. So I have clear reasons for doing all those things outside of sessions.
It’s just that I like listening and talking with people that need help in one form or another. I want to be a person that provides hope and encouragement. For most of my clients, I am one of the few people (with some, the only one) in their life who always has kind words to say, who tends to not blame or criticize, who doesn’t call them names or use sarcasm, and is someone who clearly wants to help and encourage.
So when I’ve just connected with someone, listened, and given them some hope or a new perspective, it often feels too minimizing to write that down. There are documentation words and phrases that can accurately summarize what happened in a session, but leave out the emotional feelings and amount of energy expended. So many times, the words just aren’t there to express the depth of a session. Plus, I am always concerned about privacy of records and some detail just doesn’t need to be in a person’s chart. Anyway, writing down what I talked about with a client seems to cheapen the experience, and that bothers me.
Go figure, I get emotionally drained. Hopefully this is somewhat interesting to all of my wonderful readers. But if not, I felt the need to get it out anyway. And it is not a subject I hear discussed very much from other therapists/counselors/social workers.
By the way, I take enough care of myself that I am stable and okay, even when drained.