What Therapists Need to Know About Burnout at Every Stage of Their Career

(And how diversifying your income streams can help!)

Most of the therapists I know become therapists because they are passionate, caring individuals who truly want to make a difference in the lives of others. Being a therapist can be a challenging and rewarding career, and the challenges can vary in different career stages.

Early Career

For therapists just starting out, there can be a steep learning curve as they adjust to the demands of the profession.

They may struggle with setting boundaries, managing caseloads, and navigating office politics. In addition, new therapists may not have the experience or confidence to effectively deal with difficult clients or ethical dilemmas.

Therapists who are just starting out in their careers may feel pressure to prove themselves and establish their expertise, and may take on too many clients or work long hours to build their practices. In addition, the stress of paying off student loans and adjusting to the demands of a new career can increase burnout risk.

Here are some ways that early-career therapists can reduce their risk of burnout.

  1. Set realistic expectations: Avoid overloading yourself with too many clients or tasks. Set achievable goals and prioritize self-care.
  2. Seek supervision and support: Regular supervision can provide guidance and a safe space to discuss challenges. Reach out to mentors or colleagues for support and advice.
  3. Practice self-care: Develop healthy coping mechanisms and self-care routines. Prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and build self-care strategies into your day.

Reasons to diversify your income early in your career

  1. By exploring and establishing additional income streams early on, therapists can supplement their income and alleviate financial stress.
  2. This can provide a buffer during the initial stages of building a practice and help maintain a healthier work-life balance.

Balancing Work and Family

Balancing work and family life can be a major challenge for therapists. The demands of parenthood, including sleepless nights and sick children, can make it difficult to maintain a full caseload or keep up with continuing education requirements. Additionally, therapists may struggle with feelings of guilt or anxiety about taking time off to care for their children.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Some ways to cope in you are in the balancing career and family stage:

  1. Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and family time. Communicate your availability to colleagues and clients, and prioritize dedicated family time without work-related distractions. Avoid the temptation to work outside of your regular hours!
  2. Delegate and ask for help: Share responsibilities both at work and at home. Seek support from your partner, family members, or trusted childcare providers to lighten the load.
  3. Prioritize self-care: Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Engage in activities that recharge you, practice self-care routines, and make time for hobbies and quality time with loved ones.

Reasons to diversify your income when balancing career and family

  1. Therapists can reduce financial strain, gain more control over their schedules, and create a more sustainable and balanced career. It allows them to have greater flexibility in balancing their career and family responsibilities, as well as pursuing other personal interests and goals. However, it’s important to ensure that adding additional income streams does not lead to an increase in workload or compromise self-care and well-being. Finding the right balance is key.
  2. Financial stability: Starting or expanding a family often comes with increased financial responsibilities. Diversifying income streams can provide an additional source of income that helps support the needs of a growing family. It can alleviate financial stress and provide a safety net during periods of reduced work or parental leave.
  3. Flexibility: Adding diversified income streams can offer flexibility in managing work and family commitments. It allows therapists to have more control over their schedule and adjust their workload to accommodate family needs. They can choose income-generating activities that provide the desired balance between work and family time.


Mid-career can be a time of transition for therapists as they reassess their career goals and consider new directions. This can be a time of excitement and growth, but it can also be stressful and uncertain. Some therapists may feel stuck in a job or field that no longer feels fulfilling, while others may be facing burnout or compassion fatigue.

At this stage, therapists may have established successful practices and be well-respected in their fields. However, they may also face new challenges such as managing a larger caseload, dealing with difficult clients, and keeping up with changing industry standards. As a result, they may feel overwhelmed and exhausted, leading to burnout.

Some ways to reduce burnout risk in mid-career

  1. Delegate and collaborate: Learn to delegate tasks and seek collaboration with colleagues when possible. This can help distribute the workload and reduce stress.
  2. Engage in professional development: Continue learning and growing in your field. Attend workshops, conferences, or training to stay motivated and enhance your skills.
  3. Take breaks and vacations: Allow yourself regular breaks and vacations to recharge and rejuvenate. Disconnect from work-related responsibilities during these periods.

Reasons to diversify your income in mid-career

  1. As therapists progress in their careers, diversifying income streams can offer opportunities for professional growth and increased financial stability.
  2. Diversification allows therapists to expand their services, such as offering workshops, trainings, or consulting, which can generate additional income while still maintaining their primary therapy practice.

Late Career/ Pre-Retirement

As therapists approach retirement age, they may face a range of challenges. Financial concerns, such as retirement savings and insurance, can be a major stressor. Additionally, therapists may be dealing with health issues or the care of aging parents, which can affect their ability to work. Finally, some therapists may feel a sense of loss or uncertainty about their identity as a therapist as they transition to a new stage of life.

Therapists who are nearing retirement age may feel burned out due to the physical and emotional demands of their work. They may also feel pressure to stay up-to-date with new research and techniques, or worry about leaving their clients behind. In addition, older therapists may face health issues or caregiving responsibilities for aging family members, adding to their stress.

Ways to combat burnout when nearing retirement

  1. Reflect on accomplishments: Take time to reflect on your achievements and the impact you’ve made in your career. Celebrate milestones and acknowledge your contributions.
  2. Transition or diversify: Consider transitioning into a different role, such as mentoring or teaching. Exploring new avenues within the field can bring fresh perspectives and reignite passion.
  3. Plan for retirement: Start planning for retirement early and ensure you have a clear financial and personal plan in place. Gradually transition your workload to prepare for a smooth transition into retirement.

Reasons to diversify your income at this stage in your career

Diversified income streams offer numerous benefits for therapists in late career or pre-retirement.

  1. Additional income streams provide a financial cushion and increased stability as therapists approach retirement, ensuring a smoother transition into this next phase of life. By generating income from various sources, such as consulting, speaking engagements, or online courses, therapists can supplement their traditional therapy practice and maintain a steady flow of revenue.
  2. Diversified income streams open up opportunities for continued professional engagement, allowing therapists to share their expertise, mentor aspiring professionals, or explore new modalities or populations. This not only keeps their skills sharp but also fosters a sense of purpose and fulfillment, making the pre-retirement stage more rewarding and enjoyable.
  3. Having multiple income streams can offer greater flexibility in scheduling and workload management, empowering therapists to strike a balance between work and personal life commitments as they approach the next chapter of their career.

Regardless of the stage of career they are in, it’s important for therapists to be aware of the signs of burnout and take steps to prevent it.

This might include seeking support from colleagues or supervisors, setting boundaries around work hours and client load, practicing self-care, and exploring new career opportunities if necessary. By taking proactive steps to manage stress and prevent burnout, therapists can continue to provide high-quality care for their clients and enjoy fulfilling careers.

At every career stage, diversifying your income as a therapist can be a great tool for a thriving, healthy career.

To find out more about how I help therapists achieve diversified income streams and more balance, visit www.mrisser.com and book a free 30-minute session with me!

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