Psychiatrists out there, do you carry any baggage from your clients? if so how do you cope with it?
Hi! I'm Thomas, I'm interested in psychiatry and human psychology, and I would like to know more about how people in the psychology professions think about their work. #psychology #psychiatry #clinical-psychology #career
Susan Delphine’s Answer
At about year 22 into it, I began to work two days a week with homeless, mentally ill persons in downtown Dallas. That was a new-to-me level of suffering and drama. The learning process began again, but, again, I just kept doing the work and one day I could fully empathize with someone who'd lost two grandchildren that month in two different drive by shootings while I was with her, and then let it go and move on to the next one.
Again, I am pretty sure that it is an unconscious mechanism, supported by peer or supervisory support for really disturbing situations. But even then, you process the situation and then get back to the work. That's how you learn to "leave it at the office."
The way I work through this is by talking about it to my peers and supervisor. I also may talk about it to a close friend. After talking about it, I feel myself start to let it go and it does not bother me as much. As counterintuitive as it sounds given this profession, it is often necessary to detach your professional life from your personal life to stay mentally healthy.
Most psychiatrists learn how to cope with the potential stress related to the encounters with patients, preventing it from affecting their own mental health and personal lives. There are exceptions, of course, and those who are not able to deal with it on their own may seek the help of a counselor. Very rarely, they might decide to switch to a different specialty that would be less emotionally demanding.