In this Podcast:
- Normalize the need for self-care and maintenance
- Tips for self-care in a high-stress job
- Dr. Bernice Patterson’s advice to private practitioners
Normalize the need for self-care and maintenanceOne of the best things that therapists can do to practice wellness and self-care is to acknowledge the fact that practicing as a therapist is difficult right now. Due to the current state of the world, therapists and their clients are going through similar issues at the same time. Therapists need to admit that they also need to be cared for, and must make space to take care of themselves.
When these people who are not accustomed to struggling are struggling, they oftentimes feel like they’re doing it in isolation, and that they are the only people who are having these struggles. (Dr. Bernice Patterson)Find a supportive community to be a part of because it supports you while showing you that you are not alone.
4 tips for self-care in a high-stress job
- Find an accountability partner.
- Schedule self-care and wellness into your routine and guard this time.
- What brings you joy? Can you permit yourself to do these things again?
- Give yourself permission to not have everything together at all times.
When you have people who hold you accountable to be kind to [yourself], it’s a lot harder to blow it off. (Dr. Bernice Patterson)
Dr. Bernice Patterson’s advice to private practitionersYou are worth the disruption to the norm, to the preconceived notions of who you are supposed to be and how you are supposed to show up. Fully embrace who you are, step, and stay in your truth.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- When you sign up with Heard, you’ll work directly with financial specialists to track your income and expenses, file taxes online, and grow your business. Sign up now at www.joinheard.com.
- Visit Dr. Patterson’s website and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
- Check out her previous interview!
Check out these additional resources:
- Diverse Clinicians Series: Making Therapy Easily Accessible to Diverse Populations with Dr. Holly Sawyer | POP 732
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Meet Joe SanokJoe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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[JOE SANOK] This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 733. I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. Today is June 16th. It is my father’s birthday today, so happy birthday to Rick. My dad was a school psychologist. He did police assessments for years. He was the guy that when they needed to take the badge and the gun away, he was the psychologist that came in and did that. But now he gets to be poppy to my daughters and to his other granddaughters and his grandson. So happy birthday, poppy. Hope your day is going awesome even though I know you probably aren’t listening today, but that’s okay. You did your career. For the rest of you hope you’re having an amazing June. It’s already mid-June. Can you believe it? We’re doing this just amazing series of all sorts of different people. If you missed it, just a couple episodes ago we talked with Dr. Tiphanie, who is talking about working with couples. We talked with Kaity Rodriguez about The Confidence Project Journal and just yesterday, we talked with Dr. Holly Sawyer about providing therapy to black native American, Hispanic, and Latino adults and teenagers. A really important series that we are doing today. So glad that you are tuning in. Today we have Dr. Bernice Patterson. Dr. Patterson is passionate about seeing the worlds of psychology and spirituality come together to speak to the real and relevant needs of the people and organizations she serves. Her goal is for others to know, without a shadow of a doubt that they have value, they have a voice, and that they’re allowed to show up. These three core truths are at the heart of her work and drive her vision to help people and organizations to evolve infinitely. Dr. Patterson, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. So glad that you’re here today. [DR. BERNICE PATTERSON] Thanks for having me today, Joe. [JOE] Yes, well, I am so excited about the work that you’re doing around wellness and self-care in high-stress occupations. Maybe frame out the world for us right now as if we don’t all know the craziness in the world, but like you are on the front lines, helping people around wellness and self-care in high-stress occupations. Tell us about the world you’re seeing and the stresses that people are seeing in their occupations. [DR. PATTERSON] We think about just this reality, we have been living in these global pandemics for what feels like the last 15 years. I know it has not been that long, but I feel like my calendar lies to me daily about how this has been going on. The reality is as many of us were already working in extremely high-stress professions. I know, you know as a therapist it is our calling to hold the pain of other people. Now you imagine doing that in a season when everyone is bleeding out and there’s not necessarily a lot of room for you to take care of self. So you think about lawyers, you think about doctors and educators. I have been working really closely with a lot of people in these professions and they’re just tired. There is a real sense that burnout is no longer the question of is it happening, but rather or not how burnt-out people have become at this point. So with this backdrop of just you have this medical pandemic, then you look at the United States and we have this racial pandemic that has taken place; just this reality of what does it mean to be black and brown in the United States while trying to work in these high-stress occupations and really not feeling like you get a break. So we have been working really closely with a lot of local organizations and some national organizations to really help them figure out what is a wellness strategy for them? We talk about self-care. It’s always a buzzword, but if we don’t have strategy, we tend not to actually implement what we’re actually trying to get done. So we’re excited about just our ability to help people on their wellness journey. [JOE] How long have you been focusing in on folks in high-stress occupations? Is that a newer pivot or is that something that you’ve been doing for a long period of time? [DR. PATTERSON] Well, since the, I would say the beginning of my career as a doctor, one of my sweet spots, I would say would be black women who are in high-stress professions. So I’ve always worked with a lot of black women who are identify as professionals but as the pandemics have come to just sit on all of our front porches without our permission I have found that there’s a lot of organizations who want to support their staff but they really don’t know how. None of us took how to live life in a pandemic course. I don’t care if you are a preacher, a teacher, a candlestick maker. They did not cover that in your higher education. So this reality of what I was able to help this group of black women do in order to take care of themself, we scaled it at the beginning of the pandemic to say, how can we reach out into higher academia? How can we reach out into the legal field, the medical field to support these organizations who are literally supporting those who are on the front lines? [JOE] So when you look at how you and other therapists have really supported folks on the front lines what are some of the key maybe pillars that has been helpful or effective with those high-stress occupations? [DR. PATTERSON] I think one of the big things is just normalizing that crap is hard right now. I think oftentimes when we are in a high-stress profession, you are normally looking at people who are high performers. So they’re used to being the people who have it together. They’re the people who everyone else leans on. They tend to be the caregivers of the group. So when these people who are not accustomed to struggling are struggling, they oftentimes feel like they’re doing it in isolation, that they are the only people who are having these struggles. It’s so amazing when we do these seminars, when you see like this collective sigh of people saying, oh my God, I’m not the only one who this is hard for. I’m not the only one who stares at my computers for hours and I haven’t typed a single thing or my procrastination seems to be at an all-time high. So just validating that not only is this a real experience, but it’s a shared experience has been really healing for a lot of people. I think the other big part of that is allowing people the opportunity to be human. I think oftentimes we ask a lot of ourselves, but we oftentimes fail to give ourselves grace. I encourage all of my clients to learn to operate life at a pace of grace. What that really means is that when you’re operating at a set pace, you are not necessarily running. You’re not sprinting. You’re not necessarily dragging your feet, but instead of striving towards everything, you’re striving, you’re making set steps in a set direction and you’re moving at a pace that’s maintainable. Then that grace piece is like, can you be gentle with yourself? Can you give yourself permission to not always have it together to ask for help and then actually receive the help? We can ask for it sometimes, but still stink in allowing people to actually assist us. So I think those have been two of the biggest things we’ve really been trying to help people understand is one they’re not alone and two, they have the permission to move at a pace of grace. [JOE] I mean, you mentioned staring at a computer, not feeling productive. What are some other, maybe I don’t even want to call them symptoms, just ways that a lot of this burnout, this stress is manifesting itself? [DR. PATTERSON] I think one is just brain fog. There are times when you used to be able to sit down and just hammer things out, and now it almost seems like chewing gum and tying your shoe at the same time, feels like brain surgery. People just aren’t able to be as present of my, people have a lower motivation where things that used to drive them and they used to feel passionate about. Now just it does nothing for them. We are oftentimes as therapists call it an Adonia, that lack of enjoyment of things you normally get enjoyment from, but imagine a thing that you spent years and years training, that the thing that you are expert at this, this is what has been your life’s joy, your life’s blood now feels just painful to even imagine doing. So we are having people who are having like those work stressors, but then also just in their personal lives where they might find themselves withdraw from the people who they love and they care about, or they may be lashing out of those people because they are their safe people. So we’re seeing things happen all across the board, be it in the professional setting or the personal setting. [JOE] When you think about what people in high-stress occupations can do for themselves as habits or mindsets, what would you recommend that individuals do to address a lot of the stress and worry that’s going on right now in the world? [DR. PATTERSON] Well, one, I would say finding accountability partners helps so much. When you have people who hold you accountable to being kind to you, it’s a lot harder to blow it off. I always tell people I’m very thankful for my husband, because if I’m doing too much, if I’m burning a candle at both ends, I have someone who loves me enough to say, hey, you’re not being kind to my wife. What are you willing to do differently? Then holding me accountable to actually implementing that. Then I encourage people you have to schedule self-care, you have to schedule wellness. If you don’t write it down, if you don’t make it something where you have to go back and check it and look at it and it’s on your calendar, you’re probably not going to do it. If you’re writing down and pencil, you will always find a reason to erase it out of your calendar. But if you schedule it and say, this is guarded time, because I’m guarded, I’m a person who’s worth guarding, who’s worth taking care of, it makes such a difference in just the follow through and taking care of oneself and then just figuring out, like, what brings you joy and giving yourself permission to do that again. I think oftentimes we think it’s too expensive, be it time wise financial socially in order to be kind to ourselves, but it could be as simple as sitting out on your porch with your computer versus sitting in your dark office all day. Something that small can help increase your mood. I will tell you now, it’s cheaper for you to take care of yourself now than what can happen if you don’t, [JOE] Yes, a hundred percent now. What are the things that clinicians can do, look for, all the things you just recommended are great. Are there any extra things that clinicians can do if they’re working with highly successful, but high-stress folks in their practice? [DR. PATTERSON] Well, I think one of them is just letting them be people. Oftentimes, when we’re working with people who are these high-stress, high performing jobs, I think people almost put them on these pedestals where they’re no longer seen as people. I especially think about in the black church. We put our clergy and our pastors up on these pedestals where they’re not allowed to be human. If one toe comes off the pedestal, we will crucify them but as long as you know all toes are on the pedestal, all is well and will support you. I think oftentimes when you’re dealing with professionals, there’s this sense of, if I don’t show up perfectly, if I don’t show up with everything together, then I have somehow let down everyone around me. So giving people permission to not have it together and to normalize that for people, I think it’s a breath of fresh air that many people who are in high-stress high positions of power, very rarely get [HEARD] As a therapist, you’re probably too preoccupied with your caseload to want to think about bookkeeping or tax filing. Heard can help you out with that. Heard is a bookkeeping and tax platform built specifically for therapists in private practice that helps you track and improve your practice’s financial health. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned clinician or in the first year of your practice, Heard will help you to identify areas for growth and streamline best financial practices for your business. When you sign up with Heard, you’ll work directly with financial specialists to track your income and expenses, file taxes online and grow your business. You’ll also receive financial insights, such as profit and loss statements and personalized monthly reports. You can say goodbye to pouring over spreadsheets and guessing your tax deductions or quarterly payments, focus on your clients Heard will take care of the rest. Plans begin at $149 per month and can easily be tailored to fit your business’ financial needs. Sign up now at www.joinheard.com. Again, that’s joinheard.com. [JOE SANOK] I know that before we started rolling, you were talking about how faith and mental health is such a focus for you, especially when we’re thinking about wellness and self-care, having spirituality be a part of that discussion. You mentioned the black church. Talk a little bit more about the things that maybe before we started recording that you’ve been interested in maybe challenging or enhancing the way that your community thinks about faith and mental health. [DR. PATTERSON] So I’m a professional psychologist. I’m also a licensed and ordained minister. So I live in this constant tension of what does it mean to be a person of faith and also respect the science of psychology? I think oftentimes, especially in the black church, because we were not raised with the thought that you go to therapy, oftentimes that was something seen as a privilege or a right of white people, but definitely not something that was meant for those who are black or people of color. So then you add onto this idea of faith. We were given this message of if something is hard and if you struggle with something, you pray about it, you take it to God. It has created this divide where oftentimes I think many people of color who identify as Christians feel like I am exercising a lack of faith if I go to therapy. I love to tell people Jesus is an advocate of therapy. Like you can have Jesus and a therapist too. He is not offended by your Blue Cross Blue Shield benefits. He’s not worried about his sovereignty. I tell people like even the Bible says that the body is fitly joined together with every branch supply and the need of the other. I’m a part of that body as a therapist. So I’m a part of the resources that God has allowed to be here to help support the kingdom. So when we’re able to challenge this idea that going to therapy, I think requires a different level of faith, you know, can I have faith in a process that I may not understand? Can I have faith that someone can support me, even though I’m not accustomed to being supported? Can I have faith that even the bad things that have happened in my life can somehow bless me and I can learn from them and I can grow and I can learn to set boundaries? So I’m really excited about just the work we’re doing and empowering believers to say, I can have both, I can go to therapy and the church and neither one of them is in contradiction of the other. [JOE] What narratives or mindsets do you think is important for therapists to know if they do have clients that come from say the black church? What for to be a competent clinician and to understand, like, I feel I could see just saying things or walking into things and saying, well, in the white church, this is how people view it. What do you think would be culturally competent for people when they’re working with a family, when they’re wanting to understand more, just maybe that mindset or that culture of maybe not being pro-therapy, but still saying in their family, we need to go to therapy? [DR. PATTERSON] Well, I think one of the important things is to just be curious. I think we oftentimes, when we’re talking about being culturally competent, I think it’s more about being culturally aware and culturally curious. Are we willing to enter into a space that’s foreign to us? I found that when I began my professional career, I was put right down in the middle of a very Christian but Dutch community and the way they did Christianity looked extremely different from what I did. Honestly, when I would sit with people, I was like, man, yoh Jesus is cranky. He don’t like people. I don’t really want to hang out with your Jesus either. So it took me having to ask questions but then also being willing to share of myself of like, hey, I understand why you’re thinking the way you are, but let me tell you about my experience and why I think about it this way. So I oftentimes invite my clients, no matter the race or the denomination to tell me what does their faith story look like? How do they see their faith as being tangible and what does that look like and what do they need from their faith and are they getting that from their faith? I can oftentimes help people realize that they are holding themselves to a standard that really is self-imposed, that God is really not asking that of them but that really, he wants to love them where they are. I think that is not always an easy thing for people to swallow because we get very caught up in, I have to be perfect, I have to work my way into heaven. And I’m like, sweetheart, you run through some good running shoes trying to do that because you still not going to make it. Because at the end of the day we are all but filthy rags before the kingdom. So how can we tap into the love of God versus the legalism and the judgment? I think when you are working with people of color who are of faith, invite them to share what that looks like for them, to share their concerns, to share their fears and explore that with them versus feeling like you have to just purely educate them on what does it mean to be a Christian? [JOE] Yes, I think that that’s just a message I hear over and over of just be curious and have a conversation with people that even just looking at what three different families believe or think like they’re all going to have different ways they frame their faith or their culture. So that’s such a wise insight. Now tell us a little bit more about where you’re headed in your career. What are you working on? How do you decide what to work on next? What’s exciting to you as you think about the next year or so? [DR. PATTERSON] So we have been in just a period of just rapid growth in many in many senses of the word. Of course, the group practice is growing and we’re bringing on more clinicians, but we are really excited about a program we have called Hope and Healing where we’ve been able to offer free therapy through just some grant work that we’re doing through some local hospitals where we are able to connect black and brown communities to black and brown therapists. The reality is when you start talking about wanting a therapist who looks like you and you are a person of color the selection drops dramatically. So being able to create that space where we are able to get people connected to high quality therapy with people who look like them who have more shared cultural experiences and be able to compensate these therapists fairly and well, that has been one of our big things. We want to do the hard work of the community. But we also don’t want to continue to just ask people of color to always fall on that financial sword to say, oh, if you’re going to get back to the community, it’s always going to be at a volunteer or a pro bono rate. We want to let them know that we value their skillset, we value what they’re doing and what they bring to this conversation. So that’s been some amazing work that we’ve been doing. We’ve also really been pushing just this corporate space of doing a lot more consulting around just wellness and self-care and burnout prevention and just burnout reduction. Also just looking at DEI work, we are living in a time where it is just hard to be black and brown in America. I can tell you I don’t care how much money you pay people. After a while, if a person does not feel culturally seen, heard, and valued at work, people leave their jobs. So we’re trying to work very closely with a lot of organizations to say, how do we change the cultures of your organizations? How do we make this, not just a place where you recruit people of color, but you retain and grow people of color within your organization? So I would say those are the big places where we’re working from a more therapeutic and consultation place. Then the third prong has been just spiritual growth. I think oftentimes it is a gateway for us to get people into therapy, is to meet them at a place of spirituality of letting them know that rest is godly, that self-care honors God, that there’s worship in them learning to rest and to take care of themselves. That’s been a gateway for us into the black community, especially to say, you go into therapy, you taking care of yourself is a way that you can not only honor yourself and your needs, but it also honors God in you taking good care of yourself. [JOE] Yes, yes. That idea of slowing down and just, I just love that so much. So when you think about the great resignation whether we’re talking about high-stress jobs or not feeling like you are valued in the workplace, how do you think through the great resignation that is happening right now with so many people just leaving their jobs and not coming back? [DR. PATTERSON] I was a part of that myself. I think it started before the big movement. But there’s something to be said about being self-employed and being able to drive the ship of what you want life to look like professionally. I’m a proponent of valuing people and letting them know they’re valued because I think oftentimes, especially in big corporations, we sing people’s praises to keep them when they’re walking out of the door versus allowing them to know from day one, I see you, I hear you and I value you. So when I think about the great resignation, I really feel like it’s an opportunity that people are saying I matter, and life is too short. There is no amount of money that can buy you more time. I don’t care how much money you have. The amount of time you have on earth is the amount of time you have on earth and people want to live in joy and people want to not hate what they do every day. People don’t want to feel like I’m spending this many hours out of my day being miserable. So I think this idea of this great resignation was really just this great acceptance of people having value of themselves and saying, what do I want to do and what do I want to do that I’m actually going to enjoy doing? So for me that was walking away from a regular nine to five job to chase what was in me, to chase what I knew I was purpose to do but being brave enough to gamble on me. [JOE] That’s so awesome. Well, the last question I always ask is if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know? [DR. PATTERSON] I would want them to know that they are worth the disruption. You are worth the disruption to the norm. You are worth the disruption to the preconceived notions that other people put on you on who you’re supposed to be and how you’re supposed to show up. Embrace who you are fully. I tell people I am a well-educated, black praying Christian woman. All of those parts are important to me. If you can’t value those parts that’s not my issue, that’s yours. I get to disrupt what that means about me feeling the need to code switch, or me feeling like I have to dial my blackness back in order to make other people comfortable. So I want to encourage each and every one of you show up, show up loud, show up proud of who you are, feel the space and let the other people figure out the rest. [JOE] That’s so awesome. Well, Dr. Patterson, if people want to connect with you, if they want to follow you, what’s the best way for them to do that? [DR. PATTERSON] If you wanted to connect with us, you can check us out online on our website, www.infinityconsultationgroup.com. If you’d like to get ahold of us on social media our Instagram and Twitter are ICG We Do This. Then our Facebook of course, would just be Facebook Infinity Consultation Group. Our phone number is (833) 342-4552. We hope to hear from you. We hope to support you and involve infinitely. You have a lot in you and we want to help you get it out. [JOE] Thank you so much for the work you do and for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast today. [DR. PATTERSON] Thank you so much for having me [JOE] What a great interview? That was so awesome. To just think through the major shifts that have happened in the last couple years and how it’s made everyone reevaluate and think through what is it we want to get out of life and just say, do I want to just stick with this nine to five? Do I want to try something new? A lot of folks just taking the time to leave things, try things and say we’ve only got this one life and what are we going to do with it? We can’t do amazing podcasts like this without our sponsors. We are so excited to have Heard. Heard works directly with you to track your income and expenses, file your taxes online and grow your business. Their plans start at $149 a month and can easily be tailored to fit your business’ financial needs. So no more pouring over spreadsheets and guessing your tax deductions or figuring out your quarterly payments. You can just focus on your clients. Heard will take care of the rest. You can sign up over at joinheard.com and that’s where you can sign up. Thanks so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon. Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for that intro music. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the producers, the publishers or guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.