Self-Care is Essential to the Wellness of Counselors

Author: Crystal Morris, M.Ed., LPC

Complete wellness begins with positive steps towards well-being. According to Seligman (2002), The two major themes of improving the human condition is to reduce the negative things in life and enhance the positive. However, mainstream psychology focuses largely on the first strategy; Positive Psychology emphasizes the second.

"Positive Psychology is the scientific study of positive human functioning that enables individuals and communities to thrive" (International Positive Psychology Association, 2007). Seligman’s PERMA model of well-being (Seligman, 2002a, 2012, 2018) suggests five pillars of well-being that are optimal in feeling good which consists of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. Researchers have shown that the five pillars of PERMA are linked to lower depression and higher fulfillment in life (Asebedo & Seay, 2014). In addition, positive psychology highlights three areas of well-being:


Positive Emotions - joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, love Positive Individual traits - compassion, optimism, and resilience Positive Institutions - families, social, relationships, communities Furthermore, counselors can take a positive psychology approach to their well-being by incorporating positive psychology interventions (PPIs). PPIs exercises encourages resilience, growth, happiness, and overall well-being (Rashid & Seligman, 2018). By integrating PPIs, counselors and caregivers can manage their self-care needs. Some examples of PPI’s are savoring experiences, gratitude journaling, mindfulness meditation, and strength awareness. Counselors and caregivers in a state of constant stress can benefit from PPIs and apply it to their regular self-care routine. By the same token, if counselors are not adequately taking care of their basic needs such as sleep, eating, and exercising to reduce stress, it could interfere with their ability to thrive in life. When counselors take the necessary steps towards positive well-being, this involves self-awareness and action to address total mental health wellness. To create total balance, the mind, body, and spirit must be stable. Additionally, self-care looks different for everyone. Self-care practices should involve things we do to maintain good health, enjoy, and improve our well-being. These self- care areas are physical, emotional, social, spiritual, personal, and professional.

Below are some suggestions and steps to create a regular self-care regimen. Being kind to yourself Exercise regularly Start a new hobby or learn a new skill Have fun or be creative Help others Relax and meditate Eating healthy Get adequate sleep Connect with others Be aware of excess alcohol and drug effects See the bigger picture Acceptance As counseling professionals, we can follow some basic tips to self-care, such as setting measurable goals, establishing healthy boundaries to protect self-care, and making self-care a habit (Therapist Aid, 2020). When counselors tune in to their own self-care needs and wellness, they are capable of giving their best to clients and others. Myers et al. (2016) suggest that counselor wellness in the field of counselor education is linked to three factors; shared values, connections, and mentoring. The discussion of wellness in counselors is necessary for the counseling profession. Who will take care of the counselor when they need support? When counselors take an active part in their wellness, then can they capitalize on being their best self.

Helpful Resources for Counselors https://www.simplehabit.com https://www.viacharacter.org https://www.therapistaid.com https://www.csi-net.org/group/wellness https://positivepsychology.com/happiness-wellbeing-coaching-perma

References Asebedo, S. D., & Seay, M. C. (2014).Positive psychological attributes and retirement satisfaction.Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 25(2), 161. https://api.semanticscholar.org/CorpusID:146426624 Home. International Positive Psychology Association (2020, April 20). Retrieved from https://www.ippanetwork.org/. Myers, J. E., Trepal, H., Ivers, N., & Wester, K. L. (2016). Wellness of counselor educators: Do we practice what we preach? Journal of Counselor Leadership and Advocacy, 3(1), 22-30. https://doi.org/10.1080/2326716X.2016.1139479 Rashid, T., & Seligman, M. P. (2018). Positive psychotherapy: Clinician manual. Oxford University Press. Therapy Worksheets. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy -worksheets Seligman, M. E. (2002) Positive psychology, positive prevention, and positive therapy. Handbook of positive psychology, 2(2002), 3-12. https://fokt.pw/positivepsychologypositive.pdf Seligman, M. E. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well- being. Simon and Schuster. Seligman, M. (2018). PERMA and the building blocks of well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(4), 333-335.

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