Taking a break in Private Practice is so important. As I write this it’s just before February half term and I’m about to take a week’s break. I’ve worked 6 weeks this year and I’m taking a break already. With building my business, home schooling and the never-ending Groundhog Day I need this break.
In 2020 I took a total of 5 planned days off the whole year. I work for multiple therapists and consciously or not they all also had far less holiday in 2020. Granted there really was nowhere to go but it is still so important to take regular breaks. The fact that they had less breaks inevitably meant that I also took less breaks as work was just so busy. I’m a helper and a supporter and I take that role seriously but I realise self-care is so important.
Yes your clients need you but they also need you to take care of yourself. They will benefit much more from a therapist who has taken care of themselves.
Below I’m going to help you be able to take regular breaks so you do not get burnt out or fatigued.
Schedule Them In
When you work in Private Practice the world really is your oyster when it comes to time off. It’s your business and you make the rules! Obviously, you have a duty of care to your clients but scheduling in regular breaks every 6-8 weeks is a great place to start. Your clients will get to know when you will be off and you will also benefit from knowing your schedule.
Give your clients a decent amount of notice of upcoming holiday. This can be done in session, via email or if you invoice in advance, at the beginning of the month. Best practice seems to be giving 4 weeks’ notice in conversation, 2 weeks’ notice in writing and a verbal reminder in the last session before the break. You can of course adapt this to your preference.
If you use an Electronic Health Record (EHR) like Power Diary you can utilise the bulk send function to send an email to all your current clients in one go. You can view the features I love about this system HERE.
Have a Clear Out of Office
When you are taking a break you want to really take a break. That means not replying to texts or emails. One way to do this is to have a very clear message in your out of office. Let senders know when you are off and when you are returning. Let them know you will not be answering or checking the phone. You can advise them that emails will be checked periodically if you like but that responses will be sent on your return.
Point them to other resources in your out of office. If they need support where can they go? Some suggestions could be calling Samaritans, calling a friend, checking out any resources you’ve published or making an emergency appointment with their GP.
Separate Work and Personal
I really recommend having a separate work and personal phone. It’s all well and good having the intention to not read messages but in reality that’s really hard when your phone is constantly flashing or your notification numbers keep going up.
I used to only have one phone for everything but as I got busier and I had more email accounts added to my phone and more clients linked to my Asana board it got stressful. I would finish work but would see my phone flashing and those notification numbers going up and up and I couldn’t help but look. Then work was always on my mind. If I was cooking dinner, watching TV or spending time with my family. I now have a work phone with all my clients email accounts and Asana on there. When I finish work the phone is on silent and it’s placed in a drawer in my desk. Out of sight, out of mind!
When you work in Private Practice you can take holiday. You should take holiday. Taking a break in Private Practice is achievable. Setting up systems and clear boundaries will help you feel confident to take holidays. If you’d like help getting your practice workflows in place please get in touch for a Private Practice Admin Audit. We can recommend best practice systems and processes tailored individually for your practice.