Practice These 8 Bedrocks of Self-Care Before You Get MFT Certified
Practice These 8 Bedrocks of Self-Care Before You Get MFT Certified

Practice These 8 Bedrocks of Self-Care Before You Get MFT Certified

Getting MFT certified, though a praise-worthy accomplishment, does not automatically make you a good therapist. That’s why it’s important to take practical steps now that will positively impact your success as a licensed MFT practitioner before you even take the exam.

These practical steps have nothing to do with clients you might see and which issues you might help people overcome but, rather, everything to do with you.

It’s likely you’ve heard the analogy of the airplane oxygen mask. In life, as in a decompressed aircraft, you first must make sure you are okay by securing your own oxygen mask before you help someone else secure theirs. This analogy is especially true when it comes to being a helping professional.

Your self-care is vital to the care of your client.

Family Therapy Magazine features an article in its July/August 2015 issue (Volume 14, No. 4) called “In Pursuit of Self-Care: Heath & Well-Being for the MFT” by Marlon Robinson, MDiv. Robinson writes, “If we fail to care for ourselves, we will lack the state of health to take care of others or the tasks we need to accomplish.”

Robinson personally recommends the Reed model, which concentrates on eight bedrocks of self-care for professionals, represented by the acronym CREATION.

  1. Choice. “Choice requires that mental health professionals eliminate or manage what is harming their health and maintain the things that contribute to good health.” Reflect on the ways you intentionally take care of yourself. What do you have that you need to get rid of? What are you missing that you need?
  2. Rest. For starters, as a general recommendation, get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. When you’re not asleep, take time to relax. “[…] be deliberate about taking time to relax by spending a few minutes each day to pause and reflect on the things [you] appreciate about [your] life.” Take breaks during studying, especially if you’re stuck on a concept. When you take a break from a problem that you’re just not finding the answer to, you’re giving your brain time to process the information. Go for a walk and you might see the problem is easier to solve later.
  3. Environment. “[…] Spend time in nature […] while processing thoughts and emotions that accompany the experience.”When you take breaks from studying, put the phone away and go outside. Getting fresh air can wake up your mind and clear your head.
  4. Activity. Exercise is correlated with lower stress levels. Not a gym rat? A walk or jog will do the trick when it comes to stress relief. “A 20 to 30-minute jog can help to reduce stress. Walking or jogging helps reduce tension in the muscles and contributes to an improved sense of health.”
  5. Trust in Divine Power. “In connecting with the spiritual, mental health workers can spend time reading sacred books, praying, singing, attending religious ceremonies, meditating, or reflecting on the things they are grateful for in life.”Connecting to your source of peace can help you feel centered and remind you that life is bigger than the everyday stresses.
  6. Interpersonal Relationship. “Mental health professionals who are serious about self-care need to keep their social circle engaged, while developing relationships with new people.”It can be easy to get lost in a world of focus and forget friends. Invite your friends into what you’re doing and remember that it’s okay to take a night off to just hang out.
  7. Outlook. “People’s outlook on life generally influences what they do in this world.” When it comes to your outlook on life, it’s important to recognize the balance between the positive and negative. Although those with a positive outlook are more likely to see many possibilities as opposed to obstacles, positivism can result in impractical expectations. Robinson says, “Helping professionals need to have a balanced perspective on life and that is achieved by having a proper balance between positivism and critical thinking.”
  8. Nutrition. “Simply put, a nutritious diet is a balanced one.” Robinson recommends using the USDA’s guide to find the right balanced diet for you.

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