Social Workers and Stress
New Therapist Anxiety
All practicing social workers know that it can be a high stress job. You may be helping clients cope with anxiety, while struggling with your own anxiety. Anxiety can be particularly high when you’re new a new therapist or social worker. And this is completely normal.
What produces new therapist anxiety in social workers, counselors and therapists?
- Meeting new clients
- Suicide assessments
- Crisis situations
- Not meeting your supervisor’s expectations
- Licensing exams (SWE anxiety and CVE anxiety)
- Finding a new job
- Feeling like you need to “know it all” now that you’ve graduated
I encourage you to make a list for yourself of what is currently the most stress/anxiety producing for you in your career.
What can help?
- Pull out your coping toolbox and assess what tools you’ve used in the past
- What are some new strategies you’re willing to try?
- What do you suggest to your clients with anxiety?
- Accept that you will make mistakes and it’s OK
- Remember there is a learning curve with every new job and it can easily take 6 months to feel competent and adjusted
- Supportive coworkers, classmates, or supervisors
- Practice self-care and self-compassion
- Ask for help with the areas of your job or career path that are challenging
- Schedule when and how you will use your coping strategies
If you are routinely practicing healthy coping skills and self-care and still suffering from anxiety, your own personal psychotherapy may help. It also might be time to think about how you can make changes to your current job or schedule to make things more manageable.
My overall message is 1) you are not alone and new therapist anxiety is normal and 2) ask for help, there’s no shame in it. Best wishes as you continues to grow in skill and confidence in your career.