John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD


Practicing what I Preach: Renewal

This year I am doing something different: I will not be working for the month of August. The entire month. A month’s vacation, in other words.

I have not had two consecutive weeks off since my daughter was born. That was eighteen years ago. I decided it was time to take a sabbatical.

I’ve always believed in taking time away from work. In years gone by, I’ve taken several weeks off each year, just not all at once. Therapy is an intensive enterprise. There is such a thing as compassion fatigue. Therapists do get burned out. I don’t won’t these things to happen to me. By stepping away for a while, I know I’ll feel fresher, more present, and more available when I come back in September.

Taking this much time off at once was not a decision I made lightly. I know it’s disruptive for the clients I currently work with. And I have not taken on any new clients in some weeks, knowing that we would just get started but then have to take a four-week break. But I’m in this for the long-haul, you might say. A great deal of my life has been devoted to doing good work, to caring for people, to helping them improve their lives.
But taking care of myself is just as important as taking care of my patients.

So far, the most universal response I’ve received from clients is: “Good for you.” Most of my clients appreciate that I have a need to renew myself just like everyone else.

I might travel a bit. Or maybe walk the beach. Or walk my exuberant dog. I will seek more input–-reading, film, news, training, fresh ideas. I’ll spent lots of time with my wife and daughter. Or maybe I’ll sleep in. Or maybe I’ll let my mind wander and let myself be idle for a time.

A goose that lays golden eggs is a mighty fine thing. We can push the goose to lay more eggs, which may seem like a good thing in the short-run. But in the long-run, well, you kill the goose. Rest is essential.