Mental Health Professionals

Counselor Self-Care Practices

canstockphotoGuest Post: Hollie L. Hancock, M.S., CMHC

Reflect on how well you take care of your own needs. Help me learn more by filling out a counselor self-care practices questionnaire.

While attending an ethics conference last week, I took the opportunity to solicit participation from my fellow counselors and psychotherapists for my dissertation research.  As I described the study, and as the words “counselor self-care” crossed my lips, a loud and obvious laugh erupted from various corners of the large ballroom where the conference was being held.  From the front of the room I saw people looking at one another, laughing, and rolling their eyes; I even read the lips of one man in the front row as he said to the woman next to him, “Yeah, right!”

Honestly, I was not surprised.  In fact, I almost expected this type of response.  The laughter, snickers, and side-ways comments are exactly the reason I am researching counselor and psychotherapist self-care practices.

As therapists, we use our education, training, and skills to help patients live more rewarding and healthy lifestyles, independently.  Ironically, many therapists seem reluctant to offer themselves the same kind of understanding and care.  Yet, in reality, it is this self-care, both personal and professional, that ultimately is the most important, not just for patients, but also for we as therapists as well.  It is quite possible that mental health professionals are one of the few professions that does not purchase or utilize their own product.

Lack or absence of self-care practices among mental health professionals appears to be almost synonymous with compassion fatigue and burnout.  The literature seemingly suggests that by mentioning self-care – counseling professionals are burned out or experiencing compassion fatigue to some degree.  Do a small research study of your own: Conduct a Google search using the words “counselor self-care”.  You are likely to find half of the top results include the word “burnout”.

Participate in my dissertation research on counselor self-care practices

In an effort to understand the possible phenomenon of the lack of self-care practices among counselors and psychotherapists, I am asking colleagues across the nation and even around the world, to provide responses to a brief questionnaire created for my dissertation research.  Therefore, you are cordially invited to participate in a study that will ask questions about your experiences with self-care practices as a counselor or psychotherapist. This inventory is called The DEFT Questionnaire. “DEFT” represents what counselors and psychotherapists “do” for self-care, how they “experience burnout”, how they “feel” about their self-care practices, and finally what counselors and psychotherapists “think” about self-care. The purpose of this study is to explore whether or not there is a correlation between self-care practices and burnout among counseling professionals.  Completing the questionnaire will take about 15 minutes of your time.

To be better clinicians in our roles as counselors and psychotherapists, we owe it to our patients, and more importantly ourselves, to be aware of our self-care needs, and adjust our behaviors accordingly if necessary to avoid impairment, burnout, compassion fatigue, and even post traumatic stress disorder.

I have provided the link to the questionnaire below.  I respectfully ask that you take 15 minutes of your time to complete the questionnaire.  Then, please share the link with your peers and colleagues.  I thank you in advance for contributing to the body of literature available regarding counselor self-care practices!

Fill out the counselor self-care survey here:

The questionnaire will be available until March 31, 2013

Hollie L. Hancock, M.S., CMHC is in private practice at Iron Mountain Counseling is a Doctoral Candidate in Counseling Psychology, Argosy University, Salt Lake City, UT


Boost Social Media Engagement Through Content Curation

I recently wrote a blog post encouraging therapists to start start creating content as a way to boost website SEO, create value, to create backlinks through social media sharing, and to develop your online practice presence. In my consultation and in online forums I've heard private practice therapists express feeling overwhelmed by creating content like blogging or producing videos on a regular basis. That's where content curation comes in.

Content curation means sharing (tweeting, posting, etc.) the very best resources that other people have produced. I suggest that you share 40% your own content posted on your practice website and share 60% curated content through your social networks. Curating adds value to your social media followers, solidifies your practice presence, builds credibility in your practice specialty area, and creates networks with other professionals through sharing their content with your social media followers.

Are you a content creator or content curator? Hopefully, you're doing both.

Benefits Of Blogging For Your Private Therapy Practice

I recently had a delightful chat with Australian counselor and consultant Clinton Powers via Skype about my evolution as a blogger. We talked about the many benefits of blogging as a marketing strategy, unexpected benefits that I've experienced through blogging, how to find your blogging voice, and how to address ethical concerns. I hope you enjoy the interview. Below, I've summarize the main points of our lively discussion.

What are the benefits of blogging as a practice marketing strategy?

  • Grow your practice by making it easier for clients to find you
  • Build your brand online
  • Fresh content improves SEO for your practice website
  • Establishes you as a credible expert in your field
  • Online networking with other mental health professionals
  • Positive impact on readers all over the world

What are your tips for developing your blogging voice?

  • Start where you are
  • Reject perfectionistic tendencies
  • Remember that you can edit
  • Re-purpose previously written content (papers, presentations, other media interviews)
  • Read and model after other therapists blogs

Where do you find inspiration for blog post topics?

  • Share your philosophical background
  • Write about themes you're seeing in therapy
  • Write about related news and current events
  • Summarize new research and add your take on it
  • Share other experts' content, including videos

How do you make time to write?

  • Write about the things that energize you and sound fun
  • Schedule time to blog once a week

How do you avoid ethical concerns?

  • Don't share client information
  • Don't share personal information

This interview first appeared on

Social Media Ethics (part 3): Top 3 Ethics Gurus You Should Be Following

Is there grey area here?Creative Commons License photo credit: Carol VanHook

Where do I go for trusted information on ethical use of social media for therapists? Here are the top 3 resources on the cutting edge of online ethics for mental health therapists that I find myself referencing time and time again. I have taken their online courses, read dozens of their articles, signed up for newsletters, and of course, I follow all of them on social media sites.

Here my top three recommendations, links to my favorite resources on each site, and their social media links so you can follow them:

1) The Online Therapy Institute (OTI)

The Online Therapy Institute, co-founded by DeAnna Marz Nagel, & Kate Anthony, is a premiere resource for all things digital. OTI and Keely Kolmes, Psy.D. created a comprehensive Ethical Framework for the Use of Social Media by Mental Health Professionals that is an invaluable resource. Also, watch Nagel and Anthony discuss common online scenarios therapists face online in this Ethics and Social Media video.

Twitter @TherapyOnline Facebook The Online Therapy Institute

2) Dr. Keely Kolmes

Dr. Keely Kolmes is on the forefront of social media ethics discussions and offers a variety of excellent articles on her website. As a sought after presenter at professional conferences Kolmes speaks on a the intersection of digital ethics and mental health care. Check her presentation schedule on her website to see if she's presenting at a nearby conference.

Twitter @DrKKolmes

3) Zur Institute

The Zur Institute, founded by Dr. Ofer Zur, offers dozens of continuing education courses for mental health professionals, including free resources on social media and ethics. I'm currently taking the online course Digital and Social Media Ethics for Therapists (for 8 CEUs) through the Zur Institute and I'm finding it to be very helpful in clarifying my social media ethical philosophy (much of the course content was written by Dr. Keely Kolmes).

Twitter @ZurInstitute Facebook Zur Institute

Where do you go for social media ethics discussions? Do you have any resources that you'd like to share with other clinicians? Please post them in the comments below.

Put These Free Practice Building Webinars On Your Calendar

I've been researching webinar platforms lately and trying to find the time and muster up the courage to host my first webinar. Until then, check out these excellent, and free website building and social media webinars. I've personally attended webinars from both presenters listed below so I can vouch for the quality and relevance of their presentations. Maybe one day you'll sign up for one of my practice building webinars, but until then, put these on your calendar!

Jan. 11 "The Facebook Divide" with Laura Roeder

Social media marketing maven, Laura Roeder is offering a free Facebook webinar about the new Facebook changes, how to separate your personal and professional life on Facebook once and for all, and how to build your business (or your practice). I love Laura's down-to-earth style and her gift for simplifying aspects of social media that overwhelm most people. She's funny, practical, and endearing. Though this webinar is geared for any small business owner, and if you are in private practice you are a business owner. Wednesday, January 11th at 1PM pst / 4PM est Register by clicking here.

Jan. 16 "Wordpress For Therapists" with Therapy Marketing Geeks

Clinton Power of Therapy Marketing Geeks will be covering WordPress installation basics, creating pages, posts and more. This webinar is geared toward mental health/health professionals! You can read more about my personal Wordpress obsession here. I participated in a Therapy Marketing Geeks webinar a few months ago and was impressed with their knowledge and warmth (and charming accents). Monday, January 16, 5pm PST Register by clicking here

Jan 26 "How To Get Started in Social Media Marketing" with Laura Roeder

See how Laura uses social media for her own business, how to use social media to drive traffic to your website, and how to create results from your social media marketing efforts. Though not geared toward mental health professionals specifically, you'll benefit from how Laura simplifies and clarifies the purpose of social media and how to use social media effectively. Thursday  Jan 26th 1pm PST / 4pm EST Register by clicking here.