In this episode, we chat about the nature of saying “no” externally and internally, acknowledging the need for self-care and well-being. Liane’s proactive approach shines through as she emphasizes the significance of designated admin blocks, strategic vacation planning, and the immediate implementation of boundaries for a healthier and more balanced professional and personal life. Her insights on burnout provide a comprehensive understanding of its insidious effects and the necessity of setting boundaries as a proactive measure. Liane’s wisdom culminates in a call to immediate action, urging listeners to reflect on and implement small yet intentional changes that can positively impact work-life harmony.
Meet Liane Wood
Liane Wood is a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) who has combined her education in the mental health field with her own experiences to pursue her passion for helping others. After many years volunteering as a peer counselor, Liane went back to school to study psychotherapy at a master’s level in Toronto, attending the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. She graduated the Spiritual Psychotherapy program, which combines spirituality with psychotherapy in an innovative approach that addresses the needs of the soul and spirit, as well as the human experience.
Schedule Mastery and the Crucial Lessons Learned in Private Practice
Liane reflects on her journey and the valuable lessons she has learned, particularly in the context of managing her schedule as a private practitioner. She acknowledges that her initial struggles arose when she began accommodating client requests to adjust meeting times. In an attempt to please clients, she found herself compromising her preferred schedule and making exceptions, initially deeming it easy to forego breaks or rearrange her day. However, as her practice grew busier, she faced the consequence of overcommitting and feeling overwhelmed with an excessive number of client sessions. Liane came to the realization that the root of her challenges was her inability to assertively say no. The repercussions of this oversight led to exhaustion and a loss of enthusiasm for her work. Ultimately, she learned the hard way that taking control of her schedule was imperative; otherwise, it would control her, potentially jeopardizing her well-being and professional satisfaction.
Liane’s Journey to Self-Discovery Through the Power of No
Liane candidly shares her struggle with saying no, unraveling a profound realization about the intricate balance of affirmatives and negatives in her life. She acknowledges the difficulty she faced in uttering the word “no” and emphasizes the misconception that she was incapable of doing so. In a moment of self-discovery, she discerns that her adeptness at saying no was directed inwardly, as she consistently turned down opportunities for self-care and personal well-being. Liane vividly illustrates this by recounting instances where she would agree to external requests, such as a lunch hour appointment, inadvertently rejecting her own need for a break and sustenance. Her epiphany centered on the understanding that each decision carried a dual implication—saying yes to one thing meant saying no to another, and vice versa. This newfound awareness served as a transformative “light bulb moment,” prompting Liane to reassess her priorities and recognize the need to say no to external demands in order to say yes to her own well-being.
Prioritizing Self-Care and Administrative Balance
Liane highlights the importance of deliberately carving out time for oneself, particularly in the realm of administrative tasks within her practice. She stresses the significance of designated admin blocks in her schedule, acknowledging that this time is crucial for handling essential tasks without the distraction of meetings or client sessions. Her commitment to prioritizing these blocks reflects a shift in mindset, recognizing that specific responsibilities cannot be easily shifted or deleted. Liane shares her proactive approach to maintaining a work-life balance by planning vacation time well in advance. By strategically blocking off weeks for her own relaxation and rejuvenation, she eliminates the guilt associated with last-minute cancellations and ensures that she can truly disconnect during those periods. This intentional scheduling allows her the luxury of guilt-free vacations and prompts her to eagerly anticipate and plan for these breaks, fostering a healthier relationship with work and leisure.
Insights on Navigating Burnout and Cultivating Holistic Balance
Liane astutely describes burnout as a subtle yet formidable adversary that requires vigilant attention. She delves into the multifaceted ways in which burnout manifests, emphasizing its insidious nature by causing emotional exhaustion and a profound sense of depletion at the day’s end. Liane goes beyond the professional realm, noting how the effects spill into personal life, impacting relationships, enthusiasm for activities, and even physical well-being. Acknowledging the potential consequences, such as snapping at loved ones or losing interest in hobbies, she underscores the holistic nature of burnout. Liane advocates for the pivotal role of setting boundaries as a means of self-preservation. She articulates the necessity of delineating personal time and activities, emphasizing the importance of balancing work and personal life. Through this thoughtful boundary-setting, Liane aims to ensure that she shows up as her best self within the therapy room and in her interactions with family and friends, recognizing the value of preserving personal well-being amidst the challenges of professional life.
Boundaries and Balance: Liane’s Call to Immediate Action for Work-Life Harmony
Encouraging introspection, Liane urges people to consider the implementation of boundaries in their lives as a means to enhance work-life balance. Offering tangible examples, she suggests taking a step, even if it’s just setting one boundary in a week. This could range from refraining from work calls after a designated hour to enjoying a tech-free dinner or committing to a fixed schedule without booking additional appointments. Liane emphasizes the immediacy of taking action, highlighting that these simple yet intentional adjustments can immediately be initiated for immediate improvements. Furthermore, she advocates for the inclusion of a self-care habit, urging individuals to incorporate one joyful activity into their routine and making it non-negotiable. This proactive approach, she suggests, serves as a powerful strategy to minimize the risk of burnout and foster a healthier, more balanced work and personal life.
Gordon: [00:00:00] Well, hello, everyone, and welcome again to the podcast. And I'm happy for you to get to know today, Leanne Wood. Welcome, Leanne.
Liane Wood: Thank you, Gordon. It's lovely to be here
Gordon: with you. Yes, it's, it's good. And Leanne joins us from Ontario, Canada. And so that's always, always a good thing to get that kind of inner, dare I say, international flair.
But yeah, so, but as I start with everyone, Louie, Leanne, tell folks a little bit more about yourself and how you've landed where you've landed.
Liane Wood: Sure. Yeah. Thank you. I'm a registered psychotherapist and I have a private practice in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. So I'm east of Toronto. And we have four therapists in the practice.
I'm the lead and the clinical supervisor director there. And and then my passion is also in You know, working with therapists and helping them with their practices. And and so I do, you know, a number of consults, different things that way with therapists and just, you really, you know, helping others [00:01:00] to be able to expand their reach and help more people.
Gordon: Right, right. Yeah. And I know, I know there's a lot of us out here that are just, I think more and more people are going into private practice just because I think there's so much more autonomy that we feel and being able to set our own schedules and all of those kinds of things. But, Even, even if you're not in agency work in the traditional sense, I think we can all tend to get burned out and we can tend to get our life balance out of whack.
And you put a lot of thought into that. So tell us what you're thinking about all of that and what you've learned.
Liane Wood: Yeah. Well, you know, some of it I've learned the hard way by going through it myself. Right. I think, you know, that was really The first piece for me was, you know, being in, in private practice and you know, you get those requests coming in from clients, Oh, you know, this time doesn't work for me.
Can I see [00:02:00] you at a different time? And, and you noticing that, you know, for me, I was starting to book clients outside of my ideal times that I wanted to see clients. And so, you know, and, and it, it was, it was easy at first. because it's, you know, it's like, Oh, well, you know, I don't need lunch. You know, I can, I can skip lunch.
I can do this or I can do that. I can move this around. And then, you know, as practice gets busier and gets fuller, it's like, why do I have way too many client sessions in a day? You know, like way more than what, what I was wanting and realizing it was my own fault because I didn't know how to say no.
And then, you know, Getting, you know, to through those days and really feeling exhausted and no longer looking forward to doing what I was doing. And so, you know, I really learned the hard way that if I didn't take control of my schedule, it was going to run me instead, right? I could either take control of my schedule or it was going to control me.
Gordon: Yeah, I think, [00:03:00] I think that's one of the things that just get inherent in kind of our profession is, is that we are generally pretty nice people and we'll try to be very accommodating and kind and compassionate to people. But I, I've experienced it myself, you know, just, you know, well, can you, can you see me at such and such a time instead of that time or that sort of thing and you.
You give into that. And the next thing, you know, is your schedule is, is full. Even, even in the number of years that I've been doing this, I still have trouble with that sometimes.
Liane Wood: Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's just part of, like you said, right, that helping nature that most therapists have. And, and, you know, I think it's easy to, to look at a request that comes in individually on its own and say, okay, well, it's not that big of a deal.
It's just one session, you know, but what happens is when they Accumulate, right? That's when it becomes more problematic. And I think, [00:04:00] you know, sometimes, too, for new therapists who are wanting to grow their practices and get, you know, more clients coming in that there's more of you know, you really want to help more because we want those clients in our schedule.
And so we're more likely to make those concessions and in what we're doing and when we're doing it, so. Yeah, it then becomes, you know, a bad
Gordon: habit, right, right. Yeah. So what, what have you noticed besides just time management that kind of leads to burnout or getting out of balance in our lives?
Liane Wood: Yeah, well, that's, you know, that's definitely one right is the time and management piece that comes out.
And then just excuse me, over committing to, you know, things, whether it's in our practice or outside of our practice, you know, over committing on volunteer. Activities or, you know, saying yes to a whole bunch of different things without really considering what the impact is to [00:05:00] ourselves. And so, you know, it, a lot of it is tied to your, your time and your time management and how easy it is for us to say yes.
I think that's, you know, definitely one of the biggest contributors, but then also looking at the scope of what we're taking on. Right. Looking at, you know, what is the size of this commitment? Is it something that is easy for me to do? I could just do it in five minutes and that's, that's not a big deal.
Or is it a much larger ask that's, you know, that's coming my way and, and really. You know, thinking about how much, how much of me needs to show up for this and how do I show up as my best self as opposed to, you know, my worn out, tired
Gordon: self. Right, right. Yeah. So when, when, what have you, what have you learned about when some of the ways in which we can begin to change that kind of thing?
Liane Wood: Yeah, well, I mean, for me, as I said, I, you know, [00:06:00] I noticed that I was having a really difficult time saying no. And so what I had to learn is that for every yes that I say, I'm saying no to something else. And so even though I thought. I couldn't say no, like I was a person who had a really hard time saying no, I was actually really good at saying no, I was just saying no to me a lot, right?
You know, so, you know, someone would ask, ask me to do something and say, Yes, sure. But, you know, like I mentioned a moment ago, I'll do that lunch hour appointment. Well, then I just said no to me actually having a break and getting something to eat so I could, you know, fuel myself for the afternoon. Right?
So I said yes. To that request. And I said no to, you know, looking after myself and being prepared for the afternoon. And so I, that was a real light bulb moment for me was, you know, recognizing that for every, yes, I say, I'm saying no to something else. And when I [00:07:00] say, when I say no to something, I'm saying yes to something else, right?
So if that request came in for me to do that lunch hour session and I said, no, I'm sorry, I can't do that. I'm actually saying yes to me getting a break and eating.
Gordon: Yes. Yes, that's good. Yeah. I think one of the things that I've noticed is that I think and I don't know if it's, this is true for you, but I depend on a good bit of automation with my calendar and that kind of thing, you know, as far as putting it out there.
And one of the things I've realized that I need to do is have a better, is being able to have more times that I just say they're not available to anyone. And just, except for myself. And maybe that's, that's that's another, another thing that I think about is just actually treating time for yourself as something you would schedule for somebody else.
Liane Wood: Yeah. And really taking notice of, you [00:08:00] know, the time that you do need for yourself, you know, whether that's admin in your practice, I have, you know, scheduled admin blocks in my schedule in my practice where it's, it's, that's my admin time. And so I'm not. Doing meetings, I'm not doing client sessions or anything else that time.
And, and, and that exactly what you just said, right. It was about prioritizing that, you know, I can't just shift that somewhere else. Or I can't just delete that. That's a task that needs to be done, or that's something that needs to be done. Right. Or I need that break. I can't just delete the break. If it's not going to happen, then when is it going to happen?
Right. So. Deleting things in my schedule no longer became an option. The other thing that I did in my schedule is, you know, I would go months out and I would book my vacation time. I'd book that time off for myself because, you know, I found that, you know, my schedule can get booked out several weeks ahead.
You know, with clients sometimes a couple months out ahead and, [00:09:00] and then I feel guilty if I want to take time off. Oh my goodness, I'm going to have to cancel those client sessions. I can't do that to people. And then I don't have a vacation, right? So, you know, when I went way out in my schedule and said, okay, you know, these are, these are the times off.
These are the weeks I want off for my vacation. And I just blocked them so that nobody could book meetings or client sessions or anything else. You know, then as I got closer to it, I was like, oh, look, I have a whole week off. Where am I going to go? What am I going to do?
Gordon: Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
So what are some other things that you've kind of figured out? That is helpful for people when just thinking about life balance, you know, that balancing the, you know, our personal home life kinds of things with work kinds of things. Yeah. Well,
Liane Wood: I just, you know, thinking about how burnout shows up for us, you know, it really is kind of, it's almost like this sneaky little villain that we need to watch out for, right?
Because it shows [00:10:00] up. Emotional exhaustion. You're just drained at the end of the day. You know, you're not feeling connected to your patients or clients. And then that spills over into your personal life. It can affect your relationships you know, how much you're looking forward to things, your physical health.
You may find yourself snapping at your loved ones or losing interest in your hobbies, right? And so it really starts to show up, not just in your work life, but also In your personal life. And so, you know, another part of this that is so important is, is setting boundaries, right. For yourself to kind of, you know, we've talked a little bit about that without naming it as boundaries, but, you know, kind of putting those fences around certain areas of your life, you know, and noticing that, you know, my personal time is my personal time.
I need that. I need that time with my family. I need that time. You know, for, for different things, because I don't want to be snapping or [00:11:00] short with my family members or my friends. Like I want, you know, I want to show up as the best version of me, not just in the therapy room, but also with my family and friends.
Gordon: Right, right. Yeah, I think that that is so true. And I think it's you know, kind of going back to one of the things that you were kind of mentioning earlier is I think we also need to look at our our energy level around what we schedule. I know there are a lot of things. I think for all of us, there are different tasks and things that that come to mind that aren't necessarily.
Fun things to do, or not necessarily things that energize us as much, but take more energy, but they're also a part of the job, you know, like doing clinical notes and all of those kinds of things. Yeah. Not something that all of us look forward to, but at least for me, what I've found is, is that if I do those things, when my energy level is higher, I [00:12:00] can usually get them knocked out.
Might not be the fun thing I want to do when my energy level is higher, but I can get it knocked out quicker if I do it at those time periods. So being able to pay attention to that.
Liane Wood: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Right. And, and knowing what your own kind of rhythms are and, you know, even knowing from an energy perspective, you know, what your comfort level is in terms of how many clients you need to see in a day, or you're comfortable seeing in a day, how many are you comfortable?
And able to see within a week and still have a good energy level. And, you know, something that, you know, comes up often in my conversations with therapists is, is the financial piece, but I need to, but I need to, you know, I really questioned, do you need to write, do you need to, like, you know, when you're in private practice, you have some flexibility about how much you're charging.
And, and so, you know, if you're finding that you need to. see more [00:13:00] clients than you're comfortable with in order to, you know, make X amount of dollars. And maybe it's time to revisit things like your fee schedule.
Gordon: Yes, that, that, that is, that is so true. And I think the financial piece adds a lot to a stress that a lot of people feel of not either.
Not knowing their numbers or they're kind of burying their head in the sand and not really looking at their numbers, but, but also just the, the knowledge around when you look at your numbers, what is it that you're looking at and how can you understand that and not getting too caught up in a scarcity mentality, like you said, you know, Oh, I need to see more clients in order to pay the bills, but it's yeah, I've really looking at that.
Liane Wood: Yeah, right. And really understanding the flexibility that you do have when you're in private practice. I think [00:14:00] that's, you know, why many of us go into private practice is to have that flexibility, right? In our schedules, that type of thing. But we can also have flexibility in other areas, you know, in areas of finance and how much, you know, we are charging.
And so, you know, just kind of, you know, not that we need to be charging excessively you know, but just looking at, you know, what's my, where's my comfort zone, you know, where is that? Zone where I'm showing up really well for my clients, and I'm still able to show up really well from my family, right? And, and, you know, sort of looking at that and saying, okay, it's X number of client sessions that I do really well with.
And this is how much income I need to make to meet my expenses and earn a living, right? And working those pieces out so that you're able to work at that pace without feeling the pressure that I have to do more.
Gordon: Yeah. I totally agree. Another, another thought I thought I was thinking about is just in addition to [00:15:00] the volume of clients is, is looking at the clients that you work best with.
Liane Wood: Exactly. That's a good point. Yeah, absolutely. Right. Is, you know, really pay attention to yourself as a therapist. When you look at your schedule and you look at, you know, who you're going to be seeing today, what is coming up for you? Like, how are you feeling about it? You know, do you look at the names in your schedule and are you excited that you get to see so and so again today?
Or, you know, do you have any kind of like, oh, feelings, you know, when you look at the names and. Is it, you know, and then get really reflective on it and look at it, you know, is it the personality? Is it the presenting issues? And see if you can sort of tease out what it is about the sessions that you're really excited about.
So if you're not as excited about going into and the ones that you're not as excited about going into look for commonalities, because there may be, you know, certain [00:16:00] presenting issues that you just are not excited about working with, right? And again, there you can start to, you know, shift away from, from those.
presenting issues and said, that's not an area that, you know, I'm really wanting to practice in and put more of your focus on those cases where you do get excited and they do energize you.
Gordon: Yeah, yeah, that's that's very true. And I think for those of us that have been doing this a while, you know, if you If you look at your, your agenda for the day or your appointments for the day and you pick out the ones that, oh, I dread seeing this person or, you know, that kind of thing, that is something that I think you need to pay attention to because you're probably not doing as good a clinical work with those folks as you do the folks that you really connect with better.
Liane Wood: I would agree with that completely. And, you know, some of it, some of it may be, you know, our own [00:17:00] feelings and how we're showing up and sometimes we kind of feel that way because the presenting issue in that case, maybe something that, you know, we're not as strong in. So even, even noticing that, because that puts stress on us too, right?
There's, there's a real fine balance, you know, I think between taking on clients that are going to stretch us and allow us to grow and taking on a client. So far out of, of what we do, that is going to be this huge stretch for us. Right. And so, and it's something that's very individual to, to therapists, you know, some therapists can do a bigger stretch.
Other therapists have a more limited stretch that they can do and still feel comfortable. And so, you know, I wish it was more black and white and we could say, you know, you can try doing this and not doing that, but it's so. Individual to the therapist and their personalities or style, you know,
Gordon: yeah, yeah, it's a, it's ironic when I [00:18:00] worked before I went into private practice, I worked for a nonprofit that worked at, at risk children and youth and their families.
And you know, when I went into private practice, I would, I would take on some youth and people from that demographic, but I realized one of the reasons I got out of that. agency job is I didn't really enjoy that demographic or that group of, you know, teens. I mean, I people have heard me say on or working with kids.
I people have heard me say before my daughter told me when she was little, I sucked at playing Barbie. So realize that that's not necessarily my forte is to be able to work with younger people or work with youth and children. And so it's okay to, I think, to give yourself permission to say, okay, These are not, I don't need to suffer through or make my clients suffer through me working with people that aren't necessarily a good fit.
Right. Yeah. [00:19:00] Yeah. So well, Leanne just change gears a little bit. Tell folks a little bit more about your practice and kind of the, the work that you do in your practice clinically. Yeah, clinically.
Liane Wood: Good question. Yeah. So, yeah, I think I mentioned there's four therapists in our practice and, you know, each of us has a little different area that we like to work in.
You know, probably my sweet spot is working with individuals You know, adults is, is where I'm really comfortable. And I do, I do enjoy working in the area of trauma and, you know, if my schedule is too full of trauma cases, then that becomes draining for me. And so, you know, I have another, my other area of special interest is in spiritual psychotherapy and spiritually integrated psychotherapy.
And so I'm able to. You kind of balance those both of those interests out in my practice so that, [00:20:00] you know, I don't get drained and I, you know, I'm able to kind of maintain that balance. And so I'm pretty, I try to be pretty careful about the number of trauma clients that I'm working with. Because even though I enjoy it, it's pretty heavy at times, right?
So it you know, this is where those pieces like boundaries that we were talking about a few minutes ago become really important. So I want to there was a saying that I heard one time. I wish I could remember where I heard it, you know, but I don't and this but the saying was I want to give others the best of me instead of what's left of me.
Yes, right. And that's why those boundaries are so important is so that I can show up in my clinical practice giving my clients the best of me instead of the worn out. What's left of me, right?
Gordon: That makes perfect sense makes perfect sense. Well, Leanne, I have to be respectful of your time. What sort of parting thoughts might you have around this topic?
Liane Wood: Great question. [00:21:00] I, you know, would really encourage people to think about boundaries, you know, and, and how they want to implement that in their own lives. And, you know, whether. It's setting one boundary this week, whether you know it's no work calls after seven o'clock or a tech free dinner or, you know, really sticking to your schedule and saying, Okay, I'm not going to book anything outside of my scheduled times.
You doing something that way is something you can do right now to start improving your work life balance. Also, you know, the other thing that you could do is to incorporate one self care habits. You know, one activity that brings you joy and make it non negotiable in your schedule, right? It's not something that can be changed or moved anything that way.
It just starting, you know, with putting that one boundary in place, putting that one activity in your schedule and making it non [00:22:00] negotiable. Will start to help your work life balance and, and really, you know, begin to reduce the chances of you experiencing burnout.
Gordon: Yes. Yes. Totally agree. I think it's a, you know, just really, I think sometimes it's good to take an inventory of all of that and.
You know, something that I've done on occasion. I think it's a good thing to do is if when you, when we're feeling overwhelmed with our time and with all that we're, we put pile on ourselves, is to do maybe like a time management study or just you know, do a log for a week to see, okay, how am I spending my time?
What am I putting my energy into? And what do I want to change about?
Liane Wood: Yeah. Yeah. I would call that a time on it. Right. So you can really see where that time is being spent. And that's a great way to do it. And you can see, okay, do I want to spend that much time on this task? And what can I do to change it if I don't want to be spending [00:23:00] that much time on
Well, and tell folks how they can get in touch with you and if they want to learn more about your consulting and all that you're doing. How can they do that? Yeah,
Liane Wood: absolutely. You can find me online. My website is psychotherapymasterminds. com. And you can also search psychotherapy masterminds on Instagram or Facebook and find me those ways.
Those are usually the easiest ways to find me.
Gordon: Okay. Well, good. So, well, Leanne is good to get to know you and enjoyed our conversation and hopefully we can have another one here soon.
Gordon: [00:00:00] Well, hello, everyone, and welcome again to the podcast. And I'm happy for you to get to know today, Leanne Wood. Welcome, Leanne.
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Meet Gordon Brewer, MEd, LMFT
Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog. He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer, and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast wherever you listen to it. Follow us on Instagram @practiceoftherapy, and “Like” us on Facebook.