Travel Therapy: Learning to Take Care of Yourself


Ask any travel therapist and they’ll tell you that it’s not always easy to prioritize one’s well-being. Unfortunately, life and work get in the way. There are just too many things that require immediate attention that we tend to put our own needs in the back burner. However, clichés notwithstanding, how can you properly take care of other people when you can’t even take care of yourself?

The short answer is that you can’t. If you’re ill—whether physiologically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually—you’re less efficient as a physical or occupational therapist. At the end of the day, if you’re unhealthy, you end up hurting others. Maybe not physically but certainly your negativity will have an impact on how you relate to others. Clients might not respond to you as well as they should if they can sense that you don’t care enough. And it’s not really that you don’t care, it’s maybe just a case of fatigue getting in the way of your work.

Self-care is not selfish, especially where travel therapists are concerned. It’s very important for travel healthcare professionals to be able to come to work physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. In fact, responsible travel therapists should refer their clients to another healthcare professional if they feel they’re not healthy enough to deliver good service.

Before checking in with a client at the start of your session, be sure that you are prepared and centered. Take care of yourself first. Use the therapy techniques that you had learned on yourself. During your sessions, be in tune with how your body is positioned. Are you comfortable enough? You should be, otherwise who knows what aches and pains you’ll feel at the end of the day.

Therapists who travel to their assignments by car risk developing back pain or sciatica, especially when they spend six or more hours on the road. Make sure that you have plenty of pit stops. Or better yet, minimize driving if you can.

Avoid exerting too much physical or emotional energy. Conserve energy as you go through a session. Emotionally, try to detach yourself. Don’t get bogged down by emotional burden. Give your clients what they need and nothing more. Practice focusing your energy and attention to where they’re really needed.

When you find time (and you better find the time), explore hobbies that allow you creative expression. Write a book, paint a portrait, cook your favorite meal—these activities don’t have to be such big productions. A few minutes a day will do as long as you find an avenue to mold and express your thoughts and ideas.

There are a hundred little things you can do throughout the day to take care of yourself. Be sure that you do. Remember, your greatest asset in life is your health. Take care of yourself and you’ll be able to take care of others better.