A Psychologist’s Case of Burnout
Years ago I received a call from a practitioner who was panicked about the sustainability of her client practice. A PhD psychologist, she knew the implications of countertransference and maintained impeccable personal and professional boundaries. Yet she was burning out.
At risk was her ability to make a living as well as to be a neutral, effective resource to her clients. This was a critical juncture in her professional life.
She suspected that her empathy technique was a major factor in bringing her to the precipice of personal disaster. Her academic and clinical training reinforced her natural tendency to take on and hold other people’s emotions. Emotions that, in any therapy practice, run the gamut from stress and fear to rage, trauma and grief.
Her hypothesis that years of therapeutic holding induced her burnout, catalyzed my decision to include energetic self-care in practitioner trainings.
Burnout in all modalities
This burnout story is one I’ve heard repeatedly from clinical, therapeutic, alternative and allopathic practitioners. Their training either ignores or champions behaviors that can create an enormous tax on practitioners’ wellbeing.
This problem exists in any helping profession: bodywork, fitness and yoga practices, Reiki Masters, spiritual counselors, tattoo artists. Because practitioners assist, support, advocate, advise and guide, they are potentially awash in their clients’ emotions.
Energy hygiene for practitioners
This therapist’s story is more than 25 years old. Today, she’s still practicing. She uses simple, profound self-care and energy-hygiene practices to hold her energetic space and to interact without taking emotional energy into her field.
She’s made the transition from being an empathic healer, feeling someone else’s feelings, into a compassionate practitioner, observing, witnessing and holding space for clients to acknowledge and maintain sovereignty, responsibility and relationship to their emotions and experience.
The costs of burnout are clear. But there’s more to consider. There are hidden costs and unintended consequences.
Empathic healing dulls the senses
Over time, empathic healing can skew the accuracy of what a practitioner senses from clients because the content is overlaid with similar energies from other client cases over the course of years of practice.
People exchange energy all the time. We all have other people’s energy in our field. For those in helping and healing professions, the sheer volume becomes significant.
It’s challenging to differentiate your energy from theirs
Some practitioners may notice that they feel exhilarated and amped up by some clients and depleted by others.
Your emotions can be amplified when you take in similar emotional content from others. By relating to clients empathically, you allow their anger, fear, anxiety, depression to exacerbate your own.
Successful, busy practitioners see up to 25-30 clients/week. Certain types of practitioners like chiropractors, doctors and nurses may see far more than that! They hear similar stories repeatedly over the years, relevant to the modality they practice. That’s a lot of emotional energy to hold.
There’s a common phenomenon of attracting clients with similar issues to your own
If a practitioner is anxious about money or relationship issues, an influx of money and relationship themes emerge in client cases. Vibrations attract similar vibrations, creating a field of resonance.
During the early stages of my very tightly and quietly held divorce, I arrived at my practice in Boston one day and sat across from seven clients who were in different stages of relationships ending.
Without tools such as energy hygiene and clairvoyance, I would have merged energetically with each of those clients, displacing my own energy with theirs. Eventually there’d be little of me left to notice I was gone! I wouldn’t have been able to perceive the most useful strategy for facilitating their process and evolution. Nor would I have had clear insights into which aspects of the their energy were tied most directly to the source of their current experience.
Practitioners pick up energy fragments
When a practitioner senses into client stories, they pick up energy fragments from each scenario. Pain fragments, anxiety fragments, rage fragments, fear fragments. They add up. And there’s little thought to the accumulation of these energy fragments. They’re held in the field, and completely overlooked. But because these fragments coalesce and congeal, they can create malaise, illness or disturbance in the practitioner’s field.
Determining Root Cause
Practitioners who use empathic or felt-sense tools to guide their assessment and treatment strategy can miss an important part of facilitating healing: Determining root cause.
It takes internal clarity and aligned, conscious awareness to separate the energies of others, and to elevate perspective beyond the empathic. When you can perceive a client scenario without an overlay of historical fragmented energies, you have access to refined and clear information about the situation, root cause and treatment strategy.
Healing the Healer
Practitioners who learn to shift their energy from empathic lower chakra felt-sense to upper chakra perception and compassionate assessment routinely share their appreciation of the increased accuracy and ease in their work. They also escape the depletion that comes from taking on and holding energetic fragments from their client case loads.
If you are a practitioner experiencing burnout, I’m here to help. There are two specific courses that I designed to support practitioners with concerns just like those of the psychologist mentioned above: The Clean Course and The Clairvoyance Course.
Or, if you’re ready, apply for EHI’s Practitioner Program that includes Clean Course, Clairvoyance Course. The program is designed to help you integrate energy healing into your work. Develop skills to avoid practitioner burnout and learn 30+ advanced protocols for complex energy issues in the Astral and Etheric body. The program includes seven days of in-person training with me (Jill) in Portland, Oregon.
May all practitioners have the energetic tools they need to run their practices (and their lives) with clarity, vigor and authenticity!
2 thoughts on “The Hidden Costs of Empathic Healing”
I have never identified myself formally as an empath or clairsentient. I have a history that goes back to my childhood of contacts with spirits, good and bad. So I avoid this type of engagement and use and shut off switch and have been effectively doing so for many years, because it honestly makes me very uncomfortable. The reason I am posting this question, is because I’m stuck. I am literally so connected to someone, in an emotional way, that I think I am feeling their emotions, even when they are 200 miles away. And because they are struggling it is taking a toll on me. I wake up with the dire sense they are struggling, and they are, and worse yet, they are making decisions they know are wrong and they are conflicted. I know I cannot control that persons pushing their energy to me (and I’m fairly certain they have NO idea they are doing it, but they know the connection is very cosmic as well) and I don’t necessarily want to shut it off altogether, but I have to find a balance, soon. Its draining.
That said, I’m looking for guidance and unfortunately I don’t have the ability to leave the Phoenix area. Do you have any local suggestions or do any work by phone or with individuals. Any path would be appreciated.
I understand the difficulty of merging with someone else’s emotional energy. It truly wouldn’t matter if they were 2 houses or 2 million miles away, your energy is set up right now to merge with this other person (and most likely others as well, you’re just not focused on them).
I do work with clients by phone or Zoom, and am happy to have you apply to join my private practice (I have a waiting list right now). However, I honestly would be teaching you a variety of energy practices to regulate your energy differently that are available in a course called CLEAR: Energy Clearing and Self-care. You can join my wait list here: https://energyhealinginstitute.org/private-consultation/
One of the most important things to realize is that you’re accepting this other person’s energy into your field. You can’t control the other person, but you can learn to control your own energy and what you’re available to receive. It puts you firmly in the driver’s seat of your life, and allows you to let go of being at the affect of someone else. What’s more empowering than that?
You can learn about and register for CLEAR here: https://energyhealinginstitute.org/course/clear-course/