8 Steps to Manage Anxiety for Psychologists

As a psychologist, it’s your job to give your clients advice and support their mental health. Working in such an environment can be challenging at times, so it’s important to remember to look after yourself too. From practising self-care to getting psychologist insurance, here are our top 8 tips to manage anxiety for psychologists.


Seek professional support

The importance of both individual supervision and peer supervision can’t be overstated. These are ways for you to receive guidance and have a dedicated space to explore any thoughts or anxieties you might be feeling as a result of your clinical work. Peer support in particular can be especially valuable regarding normalising your fears, and hearing about how other practitioners might have approached similar situations.


Dedicate time for self-reflection

The most essential component of managing anxiety is first and foremost understanding why you’re experiencing anxiety to begin with. Are you worried about your own performance as a psychologist? Are you seeing a client with issues that trigger your own previous experiences? Are you feeling unsupported within a workplace and it’s adding to a sense of burnout?

Whether you have independent avenues for self-reflection (for example journalling, or even just allowing yourself space and time to mentally reflect), or a more formal avenue (such as supervision), this can be a crucial first step in beginning to address anxiety.


Get insured

All it takes is one unhappy client to make a claim against you for your reputation to be damaged. Knowing that your small business is protected will help ease any anxiety you may have about this possibility.

Insurance for psychologists typically includes Professional Indemnity which is designed to shield you from claims of losses as a result of actual or alleged negligent acts or omissions. You may also wish to consider Public Liability as part of your psychologist insurance, which will assist if a client or member of the public is injured whilst visiting your premises.


Use the skills you know

You know all those skills that you use during your work with your clients? Well, they can be really helpful when approaching your own anxious thoughts and feelings! Whether you’re a Cognitive Behavioural practitioner, or you lean more towards Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, it can be beneficial to take some time to reflect on your anxiety and practice some gentle thought challenging, emotion regulation or any other techniques that resonate with you.


Practice self-care during your out-of-work hours

When we feel overwhelmed and stressed in general, our baseline for anxiety can be heightened. Ensuring that you have adequate social support and engage in healthy routines across areas such as rest, exercise and nutrition can increase your resilience and leave you feeling better equipped to manage work situations that may induce anxiety.

Exercise is proven to boost your mood, so perhaps you may want to start each morning with a walk or yoga routine. You might also find meditation or breathing exercises useful. If your anxiety makes it difficult to fall asleep, implementing a nighttime routine to help you relax might be a good idea. Don’t be afraid to try out some different self-care practices and find what works best for you.

Here’s a handy self-care checklist:

  • Get at least eight hours of sleep each night
  • Make sure you’re eating enough fruit and vegetables
  • Journal for five minutes before bed
  • Remember to stay hydrated!


Have a routine around your clinical work

Are you someone that needs a bit of time before seeing clients to review notes, prepare treatment plans, or even just take a moment to centre yourself? Do you need 15 minutes between seeing clients, or do you feel more recharged with 30 minutes? How many clients per day do you feel is sustainable?

Take time to think about how you might want to structure your day, as well as what kinds of things help you to feel settled before and after sessions, and that facilitate you being able to ‘leave work at work’ when it’s time to switch off.


Take a break

If your anxiety is overwhelming your ability to perform, it may be necessary for you to take a step back. Taking some time off to de-stress and prioritise your own mental health will allow you to return to work feeling refreshed and better able to assist your clients.


And lastly, know that it’s perfectly normal!

Sometimes psychologists feel that because they have training and skills in supporting others to deal with life’s difficulties, they should be somehow immune to them. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that just like your clients, you may have fears and insecurities. Make sure you extend yourself the same compassion and kindness that you give to your clients and encourage them to give to themselves. If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

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