Stop feeling so guilty: lose your therapist guilt before you lose yourself

I feel guilty. Guilt is regularly expressed by many therapists.

  • I feel guilty for turning away clients when I’m fully booked.
  • I feel guilty that I don’t want to reduce this client’s fee or bulk bill.
  • I feel guilty that I can’t offer my client the times they want.
  • I feel guilty that I’m giving so much to my clients that my kids aren’t getting the best of me.
  • I feel guilty that my kids are sick / I’m sick and I have to cancel my clients.
  • I feel guilty that I’m going on parental leave.
  • I feel guilty that I charged a missed appointment fee.
  • I feel guilty that my circumstances aren’t as bad as my clients.
  • I feel guilty that my circumstances are worse than my clients and I’m the one helping them.

I could go on.

Why are therapists so guilty? Why do we feel so bad about being human, having needs, wanting to be paid adequately, wanting to work reasonable hours?

I recently became very annoyed when someone posted “looking for a psychologist with a heart” to do low fee work. Here was another therapist trying to guilt others into reducing their fee. The message was that those care reduce their fee.

Therapists tend to be very good at meeting the needs of others. We often come from childhood backgrounds which encourage subjugation of needs, self-sacrifice, and unrelenting standards. We are generally acutely aware of others’ needs.

We find it hard to put our needs first. I would go as far as saying most of us are terrible at doing that. Because of our schemas, many of us become excessively self-critical and guilty whenever we even consider it.

How many therapists reading this post don’t do any of the self-care they recommend their clients to do? How many of us allow ourselves to self-criticise ourselves regularly? How many of us don’t rest properly and work when we are sick? How many of us don’t schedule fun as a priority?

How many of you are feeling guilty about being guilty?

Your guilt is costing you your happiness and your health. Your guilt is costing you freedom in your career. Your guilt is setting you up for growing resentment and even burnout.

Your guilt is a pattern that you can change. It’s a pattern you deserve to change.

You can be a good person and take care of your needs. You’re allowed to have needs. You don’t have to be a saint.

There is enough self-sacrifice in spending 50 minutes listening to someone without having your needs met. That is good enough.

Lose the guilt.

Allow yourself to be an imperfect human.

Save yourself.

Protect your career.

Therapy helps.

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