Also known as, how to have loose boundaries. It’s a phrase most of us are guilty of, especially in private practice, where we’re trying to keep ourselves afloat, and help out clients without burnout. But it’s a phrase we can’t keep ourselves beholden to 24/7/365.
Over the years, I’ve begun modifying that phrase, letting people know that email is the best way to reach out to me most days, but that a text is great as well. I’m less likely to answer phone calls, especially if I’m in sessions.
Weekends and holidays are a huge exception; I’m much less likely to answer a text or phone call, but email will be what I’m on top of because I can start it and finish it later without completely losing what I had planned to say.
And what about when I’m out of the office? I typically have plenty of time (1 to 2 weeks at minimum) to forewarn clients of the time period I will be out, and let them know that email is 100% the way to contact me then, since I may or may not be in a phone service area, but should have internet (or in a different time zone that makes calls and such a real pain for us both). I want my clients to have access to me, but I also need to have time away from the office where I’m not constantly worried about missing a client call, text, or email.
In the past, I have let clients rule my off times, and I came close to burning out and hating what I do because of it. And trust me, I love what I do, who I work with, and how I work, even when situations go slightly askew or array. Being a counselor is rewarding, but it also means I have to work heartily on self-care to be my best self for my clients. Which is why this post was made prior to me being out of the office for a while, soaking in that self-care with my husband (and missing my cat).
Until next time, keep up the good work!