Monday, May 31, 2010

Those Who Can't Do, Teach?!?

Hello and welcome to my blog. As I began this new venture as a private practice therapist (I've been working in a college counseling center for 11 years), I was forced to think about myself and my work differently. All of the marketing gurus say to find a "niche" by identifying your ideal client. So, I started to think, who would my ideal client be?

I came up with women who have difficulty taking care of themselves. Although that can definitely include a range of women with different life scenarios, I initially envisioned the full-time working mother who is constantly doing for others and takes no time for herself. Sounded familiar, not surprisingly. As therapists, we are often drawn to issues that hit home for us.

As I prepared my description of my ideal client and contemplated methods of self-care, I stopped to think about what on my list I actually do myself. I was hard-pressed to find a 100% true example. Sure, I thought, on weekends and during the summer (our quieter time at work) I sleep in and increasing sleep is a form of self-care. But, I only sleep in if the boys do. As soon as one or both are up I'm up, while I let my husband lay in bed for another few hours.

Okay, but I've started exercising again. What that really means is that I use my hand weights while the boys are watching tv or in between chores. Well, I read for pleasure during my train ride to work and I watch tv after the boys are in bed (which doubles as bonding time with my husband).

So, basically, I do what I can conveniently squeeze into my schedule so that it doesn't take away from anything else. Well, is it really self-care if I'm squeezing it in and multitasking? Do I have to take time away from something else for it to count? What would I say to a client about that?

Well, I would probably reinforce her efforts and tell her that its a great start. After all, any self-care is better than none and she can reap many self-nurturing benefits. But, after all of the reinforcement and validation, I would, as we therapists often do, add an afterthought. I'd probably say, briefly without dwelling on it, that there is something important about specifically setting aside time for yourself that says "I, too, am a priority!"

So, what does this mean for me? Can I encourage other women to self-nurture if I'm not quite doing it for myself? Do I even have the right?

Or do I just need to treat myself with the same empathy and reinforcement that I would give to others and say "way to go, good start, you've got the idea" and then quietly remind myself..."and you deserve more."

Join me as we discover together how to make ourselves a priority!

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