If you weren’t able to attend the first-ever Therapy Reimagined Conference on October 5-6 in Culver City, CA, then I’m sorry to say you missed some incredible speakers. Their presentations covered a number of topics that are relevant to the modern therapist, including navigating the prelicensed years, engaging in advocacy, increasing efficacy with clients, becoming more business-saavy, avoiding burnout, practicing more authentically as a therapist, and so much more!
As I listened to the various speakers (and took my turn up on the stage at one point), I marveled at how each individual was unique yet similar in certain regards. It led me to wonder, “How did this speaker get to where they are professionally?” Although everyone’s story was different, I believe we can learn quite a bit from what they had in common.
During our prelicensed years, we’ll potentially meet hundreds of colleagues through our graduate school programs, practicum sites, associateship/job sites, and professional events. Some of these colleagues will offer their wisdom, encouragement, and friendship over the course of our journey to licensure. Others will not.
A recurring takeaway message from the conference was to be intentional about whom we surround ourselves with. We may not be able to pick our co-workers or clinical supervisors, but we can choose to limit our time with negative influences and increase our time with positive influences. This is something I spoke about during my presentation on navigating the prelicensed years – we need to steer clear of the colleagues who tear us down instead of build us up (regardless of whether it’s accidental or purposeful).
Ed. note: This post is presented here through a partnership with our friends at Prelicensed.com. Check out their great blog, and job listings for paid prelicensed positions (primarily for prelicensed MFTs in California).
What makes MFTs prime candidates for burnout? We’re often quick to identify the factors that lead up to it (difficult clients, toxic work environments, low or non-existent pay), and not as quick to identify the protective steps we can take to reduce our risk for burnout.
The speakers who presented at the conference were clearly inspired in some way, whether it was to be advocates for their fellow MFTs, to reduce stigma in some area of the mental health field, or to be wholeheartedly and unapologetically authentic in their work with clients. The expressions on their faces were clear: they loved what they were doing. When we are inspired – when we love what we are doing and work with a sense of purpose – we greatly reduce our risk for burnout.
Sometimes we struggle with being intentional and finding those positive influences we want to surround ourselves with. Other times, we struggle with finding our source of inspiration (or we find it and don’t know how to integrate it into the work we’re doing). Whatever the case may be for us, being involved is a necessary step to growing as a modern therapist.
Many of the Therapy Reimagined Conference speakers wouldn’t be where they are today if they hadn’t collaborated with other individuals, or hadn’t gone to professional events to talk about their efforts, or hadn’t explored other facets of their work as therapists while honing in on their next ventures. For example, Katie Vernoy and Curt Widhalm were inspired to host the Therapy Reimagined Conference and create The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast after spending time together at professional events. They also collaborate with each other as members of CAMFT’s Board of Directors.
The “3 I’s” Checklist
I realize being intentional, inspired, and involved may seem like a tall order. Perhaps you’ve attended a networking meeting in the past, but found your efforts to be more intentional and involved a waste of time. Maybe you’ve invested in a professional training or conference, but left feeling uninspired and unmotivated to use the information you gained. Starting with this checklist can provide more guidance and ideas on how to achieve the “3 I’s”!
- List the colleagues whom you spend the most time with (classmates, co-workers, professors, clinical supervisors, etc.).
- Reflect on whether those colleagues are positive or negative influences, and why that is the case.
- For positive influences, identify how you can increase your time with them.
- For negative influences, identify how you can limit your time with them.
- What originally inspired you to become a therapist?
- How has your source of inspiration changed over time?
- What obstacles/barriers are getting in your way?
- What steps can you take to increase your passion for your work?
- List the ways in which you are currently involved with the MFT field (on a micro or macro scale).
- List the ways in which you are currently involved with mental health issues/efforts (on a micro or macro scale).
- Identify one small step you can take today to increase your involvement in one of these two areas.
- Reflect on other facets of your work as a therapist, and how you might achieve growth by exploring those areas further.
Disclosure: Track Your Hours, LLC (which encompasses Prelicensed, TrackYourHours, and TrackYourCEUs) was a sponsor for the Therapy Reimagined Conference. Robin Andersen, LMFT was also a speaker at this conference and presented on navigating the prelicensed years. The Therapy Reimagined Conference has not sponsored this article.