Thrivival 101: A Fresh Take on Self-Care for Female Mental Health Clinicians

Behind the Scenes of Intentional Therapist & Thrivival 101: A Conversation with Dr. Karen Dyck and Dr. Melissa Tiessen

October 05, 2023 Intentional Therapist Season 2 Episode 9
Behind the Scenes of Intentional Therapist & Thrivival 101: A Conversation with Dr. Karen Dyck and Dr. Melissa Tiessen
Thrivival 101: A Fresh Take on Self-Care for Female Mental Health Clinicians
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Thrivival 101: A Fresh Take on Self-Care for Female Mental Health Clinicians
Behind the Scenes of Intentional Therapist & Thrivival 101: A Conversation with Dr. Karen Dyck and Dr. Melissa Tiessen
Oct 05, 2023 Season 2 Episode 9
Intentional Therapist

New! Send us a text message with your thoughts on the episode

In this long overdue episode, we, Dr. Karen Dyck and Dr. Melissa Tiessen, discuss the factors that led us to start Intentional Therapist and begin hosting this podcast, Thrivival 101.  We also explain why we believe self-care is a four-letter word, share how we are redefining self-care, and how our 4 C’s framework - Connection, Compassion, Courage, and Creativity - can help female clinicians (regardless of our work setting) put more of ourselves into our schedule and create a life from which we don’t need to escape.        

Highlights:

  • What led Melissa and Karen to start Intentional Therapist and Thrivival 101
  • How self-care has become a four-letter word 
  • How we’re redefining self-care for female clinicians
  • The 4 C’s framework:  Connection, Compassion, Courage, and Creativity
  • How getting “messy” is such an important part of self-care
  • Some more of Melissa and Karen’s favourite nonconventional self-care practices

Dr. Karen Dyck completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of South Dakota.  She currently works in private practice in Oakbank, Manitoba and is also the Executive Director of the Manitoba Psychological Society.  Before shifting to private practice, Karen spent the bulk of her career working within the Rural and Northern Psychology Program at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Clinical Health Psychology and was the founding chair of the Rural and Northern Psychology Section of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).    

Dr. Melissa Tiessen completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at McGill University and currently works in private practice in Winnipeg, Manitoba, having recently moved from a group practice in Ottawa, Ontario.  Melissa has previously worked in the Rural and Northern Psychology Program at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Clinical Health Psychology, within the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program through the University of Ottawa/The Ottawa Hospital Heart Institute, and has served as the Education Director for the CPA, overseeing the organization’s accreditation and continuing education activities.

In 2019 Karen and Melissa co-founded Intentional Therapist, which we developed to help female mental health clinicians redefine our approach to self-care and start putting more of ourselves into our schedule. 

Connect with Melissa & Karen at Intentional Therapist:
intentional@intentionaltherapist.ca
https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmelissatiessen/

Sign up for our newsletter to receive access to our FREE '4 C's' mini-course:
https://www.intentionaltherapist.ca

Thrivival 101 is proud to be part of the PsychCraft Network - a collaboration of independent podcasters out to change the world! Learn more at:
https://psychcraftnetwork.com/

Disclaimer: Thrivival 101 is a podcast that seeks to be educational in purpose and is not to be used as clinical advice. Please connect with a therapist one-on-one for personalized support.

Show Notes Transcript

New! Send us a text message with your thoughts on the episode

In this long overdue episode, we, Dr. Karen Dyck and Dr. Melissa Tiessen, discuss the factors that led us to start Intentional Therapist and begin hosting this podcast, Thrivival 101.  We also explain why we believe self-care is a four-letter word, share how we are redefining self-care, and how our 4 C’s framework - Connection, Compassion, Courage, and Creativity - can help female clinicians (regardless of our work setting) put more of ourselves into our schedule and create a life from which we don’t need to escape.        

Highlights:

  • What led Melissa and Karen to start Intentional Therapist and Thrivival 101
  • How self-care has become a four-letter word 
  • How we’re redefining self-care for female clinicians
  • The 4 C’s framework:  Connection, Compassion, Courage, and Creativity
  • How getting “messy” is such an important part of self-care
  • Some more of Melissa and Karen’s favourite nonconventional self-care practices

Dr. Karen Dyck completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of South Dakota.  She currently works in private practice in Oakbank, Manitoba and is also the Executive Director of the Manitoba Psychological Society.  Before shifting to private practice, Karen spent the bulk of her career working within the Rural and Northern Psychology Program at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Clinical Health Psychology and was the founding chair of the Rural and Northern Psychology Section of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).    

Dr. Melissa Tiessen completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at McGill University and currently works in private practice in Winnipeg, Manitoba, having recently moved from a group practice in Ottawa, Ontario.  Melissa has previously worked in the Rural and Northern Psychology Program at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Clinical Health Psychology, within the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program through the University of Ottawa/The Ottawa Hospital Heart Institute, and has served as the Education Director for the CPA, overseeing the organization’s accreditation and continuing education activities.

In 2019 Karen and Melissa co-founded Intentional Therapist, which we developed to help female mental health clinicians redefine our approach to self-care and start putting more of ourselves into our schedule. 

Connect with Melissa & Karen at Intentional Therapist:
intentional@intentionaltherapist.ca
https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmelissatiessen/

Sign up for our newsletter to receive access to our FREE '4 C's' mini-course:
https://www.intentionaltherapist.ca

Thrivival 101 is proud to be part of the PsychCraft Network - a collaboration of independent podcasters out to change the world! Learn more at:
https://psychcraftnetwork.com/

Disclaimer: Thrivival 101 is a podcast that seeks to be educational in purpose and is not to be used as clinical advice. Please connect with a therapist one-on-one for personalized support.

Karen Dyck:

Welcome to Thrivival 101, a fresh take on self-care for female mental health clinicians.

Melissa Tiessen:

A podcast where we have the courage to talk about what actually supports and gets in the way of our self-care, so that we can redefine what it truly means to take care of ourselves, our best tools and thrive in this work. We are your hosts, Dr Melissa Tiessen,

Karen Dyck:

and Dr Karen Dyck, of Intentional Therapist. We're so happy to have you joining us today.

Melissa Tiessen:

Well, welcome everyone. We are so excited to have a very special episode for you today. In fact, Karen and I are the guests for today's episode of Thrivival 101. We've been thinking about this episode for a while and realized it was really high time to share with everyone really a bit of the background behind why we started this podcast, why we started Intentional Therapist and how we are really hoping that this podcast, and all of our resources, it can be beneficial to you and just beneficial to ourselves as well. So I guess I'll say welcome, Karen, I suppose.

Karen Dyck:

Well, it's lovely to be here and welcome to you as well, Melissa.

Melissa Tiessen:

Yes, thank you, Karen. I'm so happy to be here as well. So what we were basically planning to share today is again a little bit more about who we are, why we started Intentional Therapist, why we started this podcast, Thrivival 101, really importantly, why we think self-care is a four-letter word, and how we are trying to change some of the norms around how those of us in this helping profession are approaching self-care and really providing what we hope is permission for all of us to start to redefine how we approach our self-care. And, in particular, we will also go a little bit into our Four C's model that we've developed, that we think is a really beneficial way of redefining our self-care. And, as always, just as we have asked all of our previous and future podcast guests to share about their favorite non-conventional self-care strategies, we'll be doing that at the end of the episode as well. So anything else that you wanted to add to our plan, Karen?

Karen Dyck:

I don't think so. ThInk you covered it just beautifully, Melissa.

Melissa Tiessen:

All right. Well, Karen, why don't we start then with a little bit of our backstory about why we started Intentional Therapist? So can you maybe just share a little bit from your perspective about how this all came to be?

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely. So Melissa and I met through the Rural and Northern Psychology Program, Department of Clinical Health Psychology, many, many years ago, and both Melissa and I in those roles had an opportunity to work in kind of community mental health and working with a lot of different health care providers and I think with for me personally in that role, it really became evident to me that unfortunately our health care systems aren't always the healthiest work environments and I really just became interested in reading about workplace wellness.

Karen Dyck:

I often got teased that that was kind of my leisure reading and it seemed a little odd to some people, but I was just really really fascinated by it.

Karen Dyck:

And an experience that really stood with me and really struck me was there was a point when, of course, a clinician had lost a client by suicide and just realizing that there wasn't any kind of process in place to support clinicians who had lost clients due to suicide. And what was even perhaps more surprising and a bit discouraging is that as I reached out to other provinces and other health organizations, no one in fact even had anything in writing or any ideas about how to support clinicians through such a difficult time. So you know, just kind of a longstanding interest in workplace wellness and how best can we support clinicians? And then, of course, you, Melissa, right, you and I kind of came to a point in our career that we were looking to do something a little different with our degrees in psychology, and I think this topic just seemed to really resonate for both of us and also recognizing that for women in particular, there can be some additional or some unique challenges that perhaps aren't always addressed.

Melissa Tiessen:

Yeah, and, Karen, it's so interesting to hear you share that really unfortunate experience of the colleague who had lost the client to suicide and there not being anything formal in place to support them.

Melissa Tiessen:

That is a story I've heard from other people and it's really kind of shocking, that right to think why is there not this in place. Absolutely, and I think, unfortunately, it's kind of just a symptom of these larger systemic issues often, and as you mentioned, kind of from my end of things, yeah, having worked in the Rural and Northern Psychology Program, such a unique position as a psychologist in in these positions and you know, I loved the opportunity to consult with other mental health clinicians, to be involved in a range of clinical service activities, to also be involved in some of the kind of bigger picture quality assurance activities and, and I think having had that role, it really, I'm sure, highlighted for both of us how important not only those some of those bigger picture systemic issues are, but then also the importance of us as clinicians being supported in the work that we're doing.

Melissa Tiessen:

And and of course, after I left the Rural and Northern Psychology Program, I had a great opportunity to work for the Canadian Psychological Association and in that role, both through continuing education and accreditation of our training programs,

Melissa Tiessen:

I think I think my interest was already there, but it just got solidified in the importance of really supporting students in having the best training experience possible, which then extends to for students to have a good experience, their instructors, their professors, their mentors need to be in a good place in their own lives and careers in order to be best supporting students, right? So yeah, I think those experiences were really instrumental and, as you said, then, being at this point later in my career where I was starting in private practice and just really realizing that I had really enjoyed some of those bigger picture activities and being involved on on some of those larger scales, and it just was sort of like this serendipitous timing, I suppose, that that we were both coming to some similar conclusions at the same time, and then, of course, little did either of us know that the pandemic was just around the corner.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely. And didn't that change things dramatically? For I mean all of us.

Melissa Tiessen:

Yes, absolutely. And I think one tiny silver lining is how much the pandemic has emphasized the need for attending to our self care as clinicians, as people in general, but particularly in these roles when demand for mental health services has increased so exponentially in a relatively short period of time.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely absolutely. And having to pivot so quickly as well from in-person to virtual sessions and working from our homes and navigating all of those challenges. It was just an incredibly challenging time for so many.

Melissa Tiessen:

Absolutely yes. A moment of silence for the early days of the pandemic, oh my goodness. Well, so, Karen, let's talk some more about how we are trying to think about and talk about self care in a different way, because, of course, as clinicians, we all know that self care is important, of course we talk with our clients about it all the time, but self care also maybe has some negative connotations associated with it as well. So what are some of, I think, the misconceptions about self care that we are trying to address?

Karen Dyck:

Yeah, I think that's such an important part of our messaging and I hope our listeners and our followers would agree with that.

Karen Dyck:

I think we've talked about how self care has been really this kind of commercialized concept directed often at women in ways that, quite frankly, when we take a step back and look at it, it can be rather insulting because so much of the self care messaging that women are given, I think, focus around manicures and pedicures and facials and these beauty types of routines.

Karen Dyck:

Yeah, exactly, and I certainly that's, my comment is certainly not intended to suggest that those are negative things or women shouldn't be involved in things like that, but I think it really gives a superficial message about what self care is and it's about, again, us presenting ourselves in a certain way to the world and it's about the external things instead of really helping women develop self care practices that really speak to who we are as individuals and connect more deeply with our values and how we really wanna show up in the world more from the internal space instead of just exclusively the external. And I think because of that, and as well the idea that, well, we all know exercise and eating better and getting sleep are part of self care.

Karen Dyck:

I think it can really lead to some eye rolling from women right when we talk about self care and I think for clinicians, another reason it's been kind of an uncomfortable concept is we 'should' know how to do all of this. We 'should' be doing it ourselves because we're helping our clients with this, and so it also becomes a bit of a four letter word because we don't wanna talk about it, we don't wanna have conversations about how this applies to us and perhaps more importantly, we don't wanna really share that we're struggling with this ourselves. So I think it really has become a four letter word in so many ways for female clinicians.

Melissa Tiessen:

I was just gonna say it's just such good points, Karen, and I think the, kind of the silence that often comes up around this for us as clinicians is, I know, for both of us, one of the main reasons why we specifically wanted to start a podcast, because, of course, we had had our newsletter and our website and some virtual workshops that we had already been doing for a little while. But starting the podcast was really a way to literally be breaking the silence about these challenges because, for sure, again, the pandemic has just shone a bright light on these issues. But it's not like struggling with self-care is a brand new thing. It's just that the pandemic amplified a lot of those challenges for many of us. But, because of the nature of the work that we do and, again, by virtue of being women, there are some extra layers of challenge that can come with,

Melissa Tiessen:

ironically, that can come with trying to take good care of ourselves in this profession, where our focus is on helping other people to care for themselves. So, and I think that really speaks to what makes self-care challenging and, again, I think one of our aims again in the trying to break the silence is to really normalize that there are these things that are challenging, and it's not because we are failing, it's not because there's something wrong with us. It's simply because of, often, the nature of the work. And so important to start from a place of understanding that this is kind of at times, not always, but at times what we're up against, so that we can use the right kinds of strategies to deal with it.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely, and I really hope people appreciate how we're also trying to redefine self-care a bit.

Karen Dyck:

I think our catchphrase is right putting more of ourselves into our day, creating a life from which we don't need to escape and I really do think those are such important messages. And the fact that it's very individualized and it's something that is kind of a constant process. If we think about self-care as a value, it's not kind of something we can just check off our list. It's much more, right? It's about how we live our lives and how we adapt to our changing circumstances, because how we take care of ourselves will probably look different at different points in our lives and depending on what's going on in our lives at any one particular time. So I really do hope that definition kind of broadens the ideas about what self-care involves and again kind of going back to the traditional ways that people think about self-care, even if you just you know you look at the very, the very positive things, like you know, getting exercise, eating healthy, getting rest you know of course those things are important and yet self-care is so much more than just those things.

Melissa Tiessen:

Absolutely, and of course it's not just what we're doing outside of work, but it's also what we're doing within our work day, and I know for both of us that's really an important part of the message that we're trying to get across as well, that self-care is not this thing that we're just doing on the weekends or in the evenings and certainly not this thing that we do once a month.

Melissa Tiessen:

It's really how we're structuring our days. And, yeah again, how much of ourselves are we actually putting into our days, as opposed to feeling like we're constantly at odds with our days.

Karen Dyck:

Yeah, yeah, I think those are such important points and things that I think you and I both, has resonated with us. And I think it's important to acknowledge too, I think our ideas about how we might be able to help other clinicians with their self-care and how we can help ourselves, I think it's evolved over the years since we first had these conversations right, and I think I feel really positive about the Four C's framework that we've developed and I think we've been getting good feedback from people when they do learn about it and really I think we need to acknowledge that's really evolved based on the conversations we've been having with clinicians, reflecting on our own experiences and even drawing from the literature about self-care for therapists, self-compassion, acceptance and commitment therapy concepts, positive psychology. So I really do feel good about the evolution that we've seen in our own ideas about self-care and what we're kind of using as a framework now. So I wonder, Melissa, do you, yeah, I wonder if you wanted to talk a little bit about our Four C's framework and kind of what that looks like.

Melissa Tiessen:

So sure, our Four C's framework includes connection, compassion, courage and creativity. And, like you were just saying, Karen, what I love about the framework and its evolution is that I think we have some pieces that people might expect to hear, like compassion, even connection, but courage and creativity, I think, are, in particular, the two pillars that really kind of get people paying a little bit more attention and kind of asking, What? Courage and creativity? What exactly do you mean by that? So we'll share a little bit more what we mean by that. And, again, recognizing that, what I think is also so valuable about having a framework is that it allows for flexibility and allows for individualized approaches to self-care. This isn't prescriptive, about get eight hours of sleep, meditate for 20 minutes a day, et cetera, et cetera. This is really identify what is meaningful to you and use this framework to guide your decision-making. But you have so much in the way of options in terms of what is gonna work best for each individual, but it provides, I think, really valuable kind of scaffolding for how we can go about making the best decisions for ourselves in terms of how, again, how we can create the kind of life that we don't need to escape from. So I'll just give a quick overview of our connection pillar and then jump in with other ideas, Karen, but basically our connection pillar is about connection to ourselves, like you were saying earlier, in particular understanding our values, both kind of our like for our lives in general, but also specific to our work, and I think that's something that we don't often think specifically about that can be so incredibly valuable.

Melissa Tiessen:

So connection to ourselves, including our values, our strengths, our vulnerabilities, also connection to other people, especially like-minded clinicians, and connection to new information, like the challenges that get in our way, this framework, just the hazards of our work, we can maybe chat a little bit more about some of that, because I think the new information piece is also I think an aspect of self-care that doesn't get enough emphasis either.

Melissa Tiessen:

Right, just really understanding again, why is it that self-care can be so challenging, particularly as females in this caregiving profession, and so I know something that we emphasize a lot is just the hazards of our work in being in a caregiving profession. And of course, most of us don't go into these roles thinking about what's going to be difficult about it. We're usually going into it thinking about the rewards and we're going to help people and that's wonderful and we need to connect with that right that relates back to our values and at the same time, it is important just to understand that there are some real hazards of working in the mental health field, and I think the more we can understand how these things play out, again we can recognize that when we're facing challenges, it's not necessarily because there's something that we're doing wrong or something that we are insufficient at or that we are inadequate to be able to be doing, but it's really simply this is the nature of the work that we're doing and that other clinicians probably have a lot of very similar struggles.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely, and I do think that is so important, is having those conversations and acknowledging the difficulties that come with this work. And you know, I know from some of the literature we've looked at right one of the big hazards that is often identified as the number one for for psychotherapists is the lack and uncertainty of success with our clients or patients. And I think it is just so important that we acknowledge that and that it is one of our stressors. And the more we talk with colleagues about the aspects of our work that we find particularly stressful, the more we normalize it and the more we do that, I think, the better able we are to have some compassion, which kind of moves us into our next pillar. And for when we talk about compassion, we certainly, we certainly talk about it within the framework of compassion towards others, but also compassion for ourselves. And you know, for folks who are familiar with Kristen Neff's compassion, part of it is, is really acknowledging that this is a shared human experience and in order to really believe that, we have to share our experiences with one another. Right without, without that communication, it's really hard to find a place of having compassion for ourselves and not getting pulled in with our thoughts and feelings. So I just see that connection piece and compassion piece working so well together and I think we're.

Karen Dyck:

You know, when we talk about compassion we also talk about gratitude, and maybe I'll backtrack a little bit and just talk about compassion, both tender and fierce, right? So again, people who are familiar with Kristen Neff's fierce self compassion, that's more about kind of setting boundaries and acknowledging our needs and getting our needs met as well. So I think it's so important to have both parts of compassion, and the reason we've included gratitude in this pillar as well is, you know, I think, Melissa, you and I both really believe that when we're able to approach ourselves in our lives with greater self compassion, it allows us to see a bit more clearly some of the joys and aspects of our work that we might feel particularly grateful for, because there are so many joys. Our work does have hazards, but there are so many joys and rewards and it's so important for us to connect with those as well.

Melissa Tiessen:

Exactly, and just having more space to do that is also then again going to mean there's more space in our schedule for ourselves, and it's really a theme through all of these pillars.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely. And maybe why don't you talk about courage, Melissa? I know it is, I think, you and I both feel this is kind of one of our favorite pillars because, as you said earlier, it's something that most people don't think about when they think about self care.

Melissa Tiessen:

Yes, so courage is our third pillar and we really see it as acting against the limiting beliefs and just the messaging that is often this erroneous messaging that comes from our training, that comes from our socialization, as women in particular, and that just comes from the hazards of our work and really being willing to experience discomfort that is often going to show up when we do take steps to act against those limiting beliefs. So, whether it's the discomfort that might show up or, oftentimes as well, guilt that might show up when we do set a boundary or have to have a difficult conversation, or just try something new, right, even you know, something like starting to supervise a student. Takes some courage right. Changing our hours. Takes some courage. Having a conversation with a manager about needing to take some time off. Takes some courage right.

Melissa Tiessen:

There's so many different ways that courage potentially is going to show up in our day to day work lives and and, of course, it can be really really easy to default to, I'm just going to stay in my comfort zone, I don't want to rock the boat, I don't want to make people upset, It's just easier to just figure out a way to do this without having those difficult conversations, whatever we might convince ourselves of. But, of course, those are all the things that are going to keep us stuck, perhaps, at least. Absolutely. Right, stuck, in a life that doesn't look quite the way we would want it to look.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely, and I remember I believe it was one of our podcast guests, if I'm remembering right talked a bit about how I think one of the reasons this is so difficult is we feel like our time is an expression of how much we care and so right if we're making a decision to change our work hours, for example,

Karen Dyck:

I think one of the reasons that feels so uncomfortable is, in some ways, it feels like that means we don't care about our clients, we don't care about our patients, we don't care about our jobs, our careers right, we don't care about the welfare of other people. And for me that really actually resonated and made perfect sense and in some ways it seems like such an obvious statement. But in other respects, when I think, if we're honest with ourselves, that is often one of the things that can keep us in these same patterns is the idea that, oh well, if I say you know, no, I don't work past 4:30 or what have you, in some ways we're giving a message that we don't care about our clients or others in our life. Or if we make a decision to go to the gym instead of attending one of our children's events, of which there are probably hundreds every year. Again we feel like that in some way expresses that we don't care about our kids.

Melissa Tiessen:

Yeah, definitely the fear. Yeah, so true.

Melissa Tiessen:

Well and I think this is where there's some really lovely overlap again. Well, there's overlap with all of our pillars, but I think this is how courage also leads us into creativity, because there is also an element of being willing to experience discomfort in creativity as well, at least the way we're thinking about creativity as it applies to our self-care as female clinicians. And, of course, from our perspective, creativity also includes play and humor, and the reason we include this as a pillar again, even though it maybe doesn't immediately seem like it would relate is first because there is so much value in producing things as opposed to just being a passive recipient of inputs, and it really is part of just our nature as humans to be able to produce things. It's partly why we have opposable thumbs, again, not just for typing on a smartphone, but actually for creating things. And as much as there is incredible value in the work that we do as clinicians, it's usually not tangible. It's usually not something that we can touch and feel. We can experience it and we can witness it, but it's not going to have that same tangible, concrete outcome as actually producing something does, as the act of engaging in a creative pursuit allows for us. A nd I think that really, so

Melissa Tiessen:

when we think of creativity not only as creating something and of course we're not just referring to works of art here, we're talking about just anything that allows you to see a kind of concrete outcome of your actions so that I think both creativity in that sense provides an opportunity to have an outlet that does give us a little bit more of that concrete output to balance out some of what we don't get in our work as therapists.

Melissa Tiessen:

But then, of course, there's also just creativity in the sense of how we're thinking about things, how we're approaching our work, how we're approaching our personal lives, how we're approaching problem solving, and I think for me, what's most important about this concept of creativity in the context of one of our pillars is that it's really about this willingness to get messy, which again requires us to draw on courage, because, as typically high achieving individuals, we maybe don't like getting messy so much.

Melissa Tiessen:

Right, probably a few perfectionists in the audience and maybe even some who are talking right now. So, getting messy whether we're literally talking about getting messy or just the idea of doing something not perfectly, experimenting, doing something that we maybe aren't going to feel 100% competent at but is going to have value for us nonetheless. That is so incredibly important again for being able to do these things that maybe make us feel kind of uncomfortable but are really important. That's so important as well for being able to extend some compassion towards ourselves when things don't go exactly the way we would like them to, and realize that that's going to be OK, that it really is OK to just try stuff out, to get a little bit messy and just see what can come from doing that.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely yeah, and I think even when I think of creativity, I think of some of our podcast guests who we've interviewed, who are providing services in ways that are very creative and how that's kind of contributed to their wellness, right, and I suspect and it's interesting I don't think we asked our guests this particularly but I imagine in some ways some of the more creative approaches to therapy also can offset some of the hazards.

Karen Dyck:

Like, I'm just thinking about the guests we had who do co-therapy and so many of us maybe had those opportunities during our training but once we go into our own practices, that's generally not a model that people use and yet when you think about some of the hazards of our profession, how doing co-therapy could just offset so many potential hazards of our work and just have incredible benefits to our wellness and that so.

Melissa Tiessen:

that, of course, is still going to be ethical, still going to be helpful to people, but maybe just recognizing that there can be a greater range than there perhaps historically been in how we approach certain aspects of therapy and recognizing that there can be so many benefits not only to ourselves but then also to the clients that we're serving, when we are willing again to have the courage to kind of pause and ask ourselves, like, why are we doing this this way?

Melissa Tiessen:

Does it have to be done this way? Maybe there is a different way and maybe that different way could even be better than the way that we're doing things. But it really can require a lot of courage to do that. That isn't always immediately apparent.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely.

Melissa Tiessen:

And one other thing I wanted to add that, just to go back to the courage pillar, is because, of course, you and I have also spoken about how important it is to us that this model and the resources we offer can speak to therapists in any kind of work setting, so that this for sure applies to people in private practice, but it also applies to people who work in organizations, because there are many wonderful resources out there in terms of communities and podcasts and newsletters and websites, but a lot of them are largely focused on people in private practice or people trying to establish themselves in private practice.

Melissa Tiessen:

And so, importantly our hope at least is that our model is not just for people in private practice. This is for clinicians in any kind of role, and that's where we can see courage being especially important for many people working within an organizational setting, because it is going to take courage to perhaps have difficult conversations with management, or, if you are in a management or leadership position yourself, it's going to take courage sometimes to have difficult conversations with staff members. It's going to require courage, for sure, to question the status quo of how things are typically done in an organization, but the reality is challenging organizational structures are probably pretty unlikely to change if we don't have people who are willing to start asking questions.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely.

Melissa Tiessen:

At least gently challenging the way things are, so that change can occur more, more broadly.

Karen Dyck:

Yeah, I think that's such an important piece and we also know, I think sometimes there's the idea that when we're in private practice we have so much more freedom and such. And I think, Melissa, you and I both joked that sometimes when you leave your public position and you go into private practice, you find you've now just got the most unreasonable boss because it's yourself all of a sudden and all of these unrealistic expectations and standards come shining through and sometimes it creates even more pressure than maybe we felt in the public system.

Karen Dyck:

So I think both settings of course have unique rewards and hazards and I know, Melissa, you and I have said many times we feel very fortunate to have worked in both systems and experience the joys that each system has to offer. But I think it is an important point that our framework has applications across settings.

Melissa Tiessen:

Yeah, and again, I think ultimately there is so much more that is similar in terms of some of the internal challenges that we're often up against, regardless of the setting that we work in.

Melissa Tiessen:

And so sure, some of the situational circumstances are going to be different if you work for an organization or work in private practice, whether on your own or in a group, but internally we're all facing some pretty similar messages from our training. We're all facing some pretty similar messages by virtue of being female. We're all facing some pretty similar workplace hazards. And so just so important that we can start from this place of recognizing that this is just the reality of this work and that these are not personal failings on our own parts. If we're facing struggles, it's just what we are going to face and it's all going to be just so much easier to manage and figure out ways to make the most of and to really connect with all of those rewards so that we really can thrive in this work. That's all just going to be so much easier when we can be doing this from this place of connection with our peers.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely, and we certainly hope that, right between our podcasts and some of the resources we offer through Intentional Therapist, that that's at least one way that people can start connecting and having conversations and thinking about things. And of course, the next step is always just even engaging fellow clinicians on these conversations and just getting the discussions out there and the conversation started.

Melissa Tiessen:

Absolutely yeah, and I feel like that is maybe one of the simplest takeaways for me from this conversation with you today, Karen, that that I really hope our listeners will take to heart is how important it is to be having these conversations and just being open to starting the conversations, being open to being a part of these conversations with our colleagues, because I think we're all just really going to benefit so much from making this something that just is a normal thing to be talking about.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely yeah. So maybe, maybe we should look at ending our session in the same way we end all our other sessions with our podcast guests which is talking a little bit about maybe some less conventional ways, that that we have found, ways that we've incorporated self care into our days in ways that might not be considered kind of the typical self care. So I don't know if you want to start Melissa, or?

Melissa Tiessen:

Sure I can share one of my practices, and, well there's there's a few things that come to mind, but I think one that I'll I'll mention for now is how much I have noticed recently that I really like making like bread dough or like pie crust dough, or probably biscuits are more likely what I would make on a more regular basis.

Melissa Tiessen:

I know this sounds a bit odd, but what I love about it is the that physical act of having my fingers in the dough, and every time I do it I honestly have this little moment of, oh yeah, this is so satisfying and enjoyable. And it's, so it's a very much an example of getting messy. Right dough is sticky, you know, kind of sometimes gets caught a little bit under my ring, but it's, it's such an enjoyable process of just having my fingers in there, feeling the dough, mixing it up, folding it over and and just really seeing this tangible outcome of that activity. And I should mention part of the reason I particularly enjoy this is because baking is something in general that I really like to do, but it's been really interesting to tune into specifically the act of like mixing dough with my hands is incredibly yeah, really incredibly enjoyable.

Karen Dyck:

You know what's so neat about that example, actually, Melissa, as you're talking, it sounds like it is, it is such a mindfulness experience actually, like when you're describing it, you're just right there. You're so much in tune with the sensations and how it makes you feel. And so you know it's,

Karen Dyck:

I think it's another great example of how well mindfulness can be incorporated into lots of different activities. And and honestly, I really believe that even if we already have some some good self care practices in place, oftentimes we're not maybe getting the full benefits because perhaps our mind isn't fully there right. And so even even just to start by bringing kind of some more intentional focus and mindfulness into our self care activities, that we do have to see if that can actually amplify the benefits of it for for what we're doing, so.

Melissa Tiessen:

It very much changes this thing that could just feel kind of like a boring task or even drudgery, right for, like, making supper, you know, making biscuits or something, and it honestly feels so different from that simply because as I'm doing it, I'm tuned into, oh yeah, I actually like doing this.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely yeah.

Melissa Tiessen:

So, Karen, I'd love to hear your example.

Karen Dyck:

Yeah, so you know, I often talk about like the, how much I love deck staining and how incredibly rewarding and relaxing that is. And for some people for sure they would, they would not they would not describe it in that way at all. But you know, I think I'm going to, I think I'm going to talk about self care in a little bit of a different way, because it, as I reflect, on the surface, people looking at what I was doing might not have thought about it as self care and might have actually questioned whether I was taking care of myself sufficiently. And it's, you know, for those, for folks who've read our newsletters I've certainly shared that, shortly after the pandemic started, my, my parents, who were elderly, started really experiencing some challenges themselves and, you know, towards the end of their lives and through that journey, I made the very intentional I will say intentional decision to spend a lot of time with my parents and I think, for people looking at what I was doing and the fact that I was going there so many evenings during the week, and I think people probably were wondering if I was taking care of myself because it didn't seem like how is that self care? But the reality is that connected so much with my values, and it was very intentional, right? I think that's the other piece.

Karen Dyck:

I made the decision to do that, and it was because it fit with my values, and so what I did need to be mindful about, though, is still finding moments and times to do, to take those breaks and to go outside and to enjoy nature or to watch a funny movie, and so, for me, it kind of incorporated a number of pillars, right. It was, it was the connection to my values that helped me make the decisions I made. But even along that journey, I really had to use my courage and self compassion muscles to step away and to allow myself to go home and laugh and find joy and humor and watch funny movies, and and that was very intentional as well with seeking out kind of lighter, humorous television shows and conversations even with my loved ones. So I think that's in some ways less conventional, because, as I said, I don't I don't think people would have thought of that as being in line with self care, but I think I think it was very much, and I certainly don't regret those choices.

Melissa Tiessen:

And I think what's so important in what you're saying there, Karen, is, as you highlighted yourself, this was a decision that you were consciously making, and that is so powerful, as opposed to just all of a sudden finding ourselves in a situation or a place or circumstances that are maybe not what we intended to be doing, and so the intentionality absolutely so incredibly important. And the other piece I think that your example highlights is the reality that just because we are making a decision that is in line with our values doesn't mean that it's always going to be easy either.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely, and I think I think that's where I think we have to be mindful of that right. And because it was, it wasn't easy, it did need to I needed to think about self care a little differently. So what can I do, as I'm following this path, that is going to keep me going and sustaining me? And and taking those moments and being outside, as I said, and finding humor, and it's again very intentional and it very much embraced courage and self-compassion, because taking those breaks isn't easy. That's where that guilt and all this messaging we get I think about women in caregiving, they show up. A nd so you know, I think when we're going in a direction that aligns with our roles as caregivers, we have to be particularly mindful about what are we doing when we're making that decision to go in that direction to still keep ourselves healthy and keep ourselves going. And for me it was, it was, it was humor, it was being outside and making sure I always had time to connect with my supports.

Melissa Tiessen:

Yeah, I think that's a really beautiful example of how each of the pillars fits together and how each of them really does contribute something important to how we can best support our self-care and, and again, best be putting ourselves in our own schedules.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely, and I will say my deck, I called it deck therapy, but I actually, staining my deck was actually one of the activities I was doing during that journey as well, and it was it was I would come home and do it in the evenings and just a little bit at a time, right, so I it also required me to get get comfortable with not finishing a project all at once, because that's kind of that's kind of my thing, but to really appreciate the process and just do it a little bit at a time as my schedule allowed, and it was just just honestly life-saving, I think at times.

Melissa Tiessen:

Well, I think that also relates to another important point that we've maybe alluded to but haven't explicitly stated, and I think it a good place to kind of bring this episode to a close, which is that, of course, as you did touch on earlier, but let's really emphasize, self-care is not this one and done kind of thing, especially in our roles as clinicians. It has to be an ongoing process, it has to be something that we are reevaluating as our circumstances may shift and and really importantly, it's okay to make changes. Something that worked for us previously maybe isn't going to work the same way anymore because of changes in our work, changes in our personal lives, even just changes in the seasons, right like need more time to get out of the house when it's winter, at least in Canada, right, and so, recognizing that that is also not a personal failing,

Melissa Tiessen:

if we need to make changes as we go along, that is just the nature of continuing to attend to what we need and being intentional about that. A nd that is really what is going to best support us when we're continuing to engage in these processes on an ongoing basis. And so that's where we really hope that, as we continue to put out these episodes and put out resources, including now our online workshops that are approved for continuing education credits with the Canadian Psychological Association hopefully there's just we'll continue to be able to provide resources that will speak to people, regardless of what point of their own self-care journey they are at, and and we hope that we'll have opportunities to actually virtually, if not maybe one day in person meet some of our, our listeners and newsletter subscribers. A nd, and so obviously the best way for people to keep in touch with us is through our newsletter, which people can sign up for through our website, intentional therapist. ca, and we'll have, as always, a link to that on our show notes, as well as the link to our online program Thrivival Skills for Therapists, and, yeah, we just, we hope that these are conversations we can continue having for a long time because they are so important and just really valuable for the two of us as well.

Karen Dyck:

Absolutely, absolutely. Thanks so much for joining us today, Melissa and all our listeners. Thank you so much, Karen. It was just a pleasure being on the podcast and, yeah, I really do hope that our listeners find the information we talked about today helpful and meaningful to their own lives.

Melissa Tiessen:

Absolutely, and we hope that if there are ever any topics that people would like us to address on the podcast, please do reach out. We want to make this as as relevant as possible to all different kinds of situations and, and clinicians. S o we hope, we hope everyone will keep keep the conversation going. And thank you for joining us as well.

Karen Dyck:

If you would like to learn more about how you can thrive in your work as a female mental health clinician, please visit us online at intentional therapist. ca, where you can discover more resources, read about our Four C' s framework and sign up for our free newsletter.

Melissa Tiessen:

We look forward to connecting with you there and creating a courageous community of like-minded women.