The Weight of the Role
Whenever someone finds out about my line of work as a Behavioral Health Counselor, I’m often met with similar comments of condolences: “Wow, that must be difficult,” “I could never do what you do,” and so on. To be completely transparent, being a therapist is a hard job. Somedays, I leave work quite down and heavy. Going to therapy is a very healing process for individuals because they have the opportunity to put down the heavy load of worries they are carrying. It can be incredibly hard not to pick up the “bags” that are left on the doorstep of the therapist’s office.
Setting healthy boundaries is very necessary because, without them, I’ll go home and mull over the list of issues that need to be sorted or continue to problem-solve past business hours. Many careers allow the employee to clock out at the end of the day and go back to being their non-working self. However, the therapist is always a therapist, no matter the time or hour of the day. Family and friends call on us in times of need, and someone needs a listening ear or an advocate almost daily.
Working as a therapist at a nonprofit means that there are many times when it’s necessary to volunteer or assist others outside of work hours without compensation. Working at a nonprofit also pushes therapists to find alternative ways to meet the needs of and problem-solve for their clients who may come from a marginalized or underserved community. Therapists must also stay true to the ethical standards of HIPPA, which means the therapist has an extremely limited group of people with whom they can share the burdens of their clients and places they can seek support for themselves on the hard days.
Compassion fatigue and burnout seem to be higher in caretaking roles like these. It becomes essential to be self-aware, take time off, and use self-care to be as emotionally available as possible. So, I understand where the hesitations, comments of condolences, and concerns from others might stem from when learning of the role I have taken as a therapist at Camino.
The Rewards of the Job
As hard as it is to be a therapist, I wouldn’t change the career path that I’ve chosen! Every day, I wake up excited to go to work and begin my day making calls and having conversations with my clients. Being a therapist is a rewarding and fulfilling profession that brings joy and satisfaction to those who choose to pursue it.
There are many reasons why therapists enjoy their job. For instance, we get to help and witness clients achieve mental health and stability. We have the privilege to partner with other providers with the same passion for working with underserved communities and share the responsibility of making a positive impact in people’s lives.
Personally, I would take a chance to say that therapists largely enjoy their job because of the progress they see in their clients’ mental health. Seeing someone who is struggling with anxiety, depression, mental health issues, and another diagnosis—to watch as they work through their struggles and emerge on the other side is incredibly rewarding. Therapists get to witness first-hand the beautiful transformation that can occur when someone is given the right tools and support they need to overcome their challenges.
Unique Opportunities with Underserved Communities
In addition to the joy of seeing clients make progress, nonprofit therapists often have unique opportunities to work with underserved communities. This can include working with individuals who have experienced resource trauma, those who are struggling with little-to-no support, or those who are living in poverty and lack the resources to meet their mental health needs. By working with these populations, therapists can make a real difference in people’s lives, helping them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals that otherwise might be neglected.
As a therapist, I take this responsibility very seriously and work tirelessly to ensure that my clients receive the care and support they need to thrive by building strong relationships, imparting education, and giving new tools to the clients and their loved ones to become their most successful selves.
By getting to know my clients on a deeper level, I can tailor my approach to meet their specific needs. This personalized approach can be incredibly effective in helping clients achieve their goals and is one of the many reasons why therapists find their work so fulfilling. We are allowed to be creative and uniquely sculpt treatment plans for each individual who walks into our offices or platforms.
Collaboration, Variety, and a Sense of Community
In addition to building strong relationships with their clients, nonprofit therapists also have the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals. This can include working with psychiatrists, social workers, and other healthcare providers to ensure that clients receive the most comprehensive care possible. By working together, therapists can help their clients achieve better outcomes and ensure that their mental health needs are met.
Therapists also enjoy the variety that comes with their job. No two clients are the same, and each client presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. This means that therapists must be adaptable and creative in their approach, which keeps the job interesting and engaging. I might have the same clients or diagnosis, but each day, my work life is different and new. I love the fact that I am never bored with my job!
Another reason why therapists enjoy their job is the sense of community that comes with it. Therapists often work in group practices or clinics, which means that they have the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals and build a sense of camaraderie. This can be incredibly rewarding and can help to foster a sense of belonging and purpose. My colleagues are one in a million. At Camino, each staff is divinely placed with passion, curiosity, and love for their job. The like-minded mission of collaborative care allows more clients to leave happy, healthy, and emotionally competent to serve their loved ones and their communities better than before.
Flexibility, Work-Life Balance, and Growth
Therapists often pursue this career because they appreciate the flexibility that comes with their job. Many therapists in the field can set their own schedules, work from home or other locations, see many clients at once, or spread them out during the week. This can be especially beneficial for those who have families, and/or other demanding obligations and commitments that require flexibility in their work schedule. Work-life balance is extremely important for any job, however, many therapists plan their education and career with this in mind.
Finally, therapists enjoy their job because of the opportunity it provides to continue learning and growing. The field of mental health is constantly evolving, and therapists must stay up-to-date on the latest research and techniques. This ongoing learning can be challenging and costly, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, as therapists learn to apply new knowledge and skills to their work with clients.
Being a therapist is truly a hard job that few understand and even fewer pursue in a nonprofit setting. However, my job is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling profession that brings me joy and satisfaction. From the opportunity to help clients achieve mental health stability to the passion for working with underserved communities and the responsibility of making an impact in people’s lives for the better, there are many reasons why therapists enjoy their job. If you are considering a career in mental health, know that you will be entering a field that is both challenging and deeply rewarding. I love my clients, and I love my job!