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Has Caring For Animals Taken A Toll On Your Mental Health?

Are you a veterinarian, veterinary student, veterinary technician, or animal caregiver who’s suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue? Do you feel disheartened by all the animals you can’t save? Are you exhausted from having to make life-or-death decisions with clients about their pets?

You probably went into the veterinary field because you love animals. But the long hours, the difficult clients, and the constant exposure to animal suffering has left you emotionally exhausted. What’s more, you may feel unrecognized for all the hard work you do. Other people might think your job is not that difficult “because it’s just animals.” As a result, you may feel lonely, depressed, and disenfranchised.

Veterinary Medicine Is Full Of Morally Stressful Situations

One of the toughest parts of working in animal care is dealing with moral stress. Day after day you probably have to wrestle with questions about euthanizing animals or prolonging their lives. Lots of clients may want to keep their pet alive even when it means more pain and suffering. Because you feel so deeply about every animal you see, you might struggle with compassion fatigue.

Prioritizing your mental health is important in the veterinary world. Whether you’re a veterinarian, vet med student, veterinary technician, kennel attendant, shelter worker, or any other type of animal caregiver, I encourage you to pursue counseling with me. As someone who has worked in the field myself, I am confident that I can help you deal with all the burnout and anxiety of your job.

Animal Caregivers Work Incredibly Stressful Jobs And Get Little Recognition

We are just starting to recognize the mental health crisis in the veterinary medicine world. Burnout and compassion fatigue are incredibly common. The stats are sobering—about one in six veterinarians considers suicide at some point in their career. Male vets are 1.6 times more likely to end their lives than the general population and female vets are 2.4 times more likely.

Put simply, veterinarians, veterinary students, and staff are under a lot of stress. They have to deal with moral predicaments on a daily basis and may even have to euthanize healthy animals. They also encounter death more than most professionals in human medicine, since the lifespan of most animals is much shorter than that of humans.  

To make matters worse, veterinarians, staff, and animal caregivers are usually underpaid. Their plight goes unrecognized. There is so much awareness nowadays around how broken our healthcare system is, but the veterinary healthcare system is broken, too.

Counseling is a chance for veterinarians and staff to find comfort in the midst of their stress and talk to someone who understands what it’s like to work with animals.

Counseling Can Help Veterinarians Deal With Burnout And Compassion Fatigue

Before becoming a mental health professional, I spent 15 years working at the veterinary practice owned by my family. Over the years, I worked my way from kennel attendant to receptionist to assistant manager. In that time, I became intimately familiar with the mental health needs of the veterinary community—both professionals and clients. I am passionate about combining my mental health training with my early roots in veterinary medicine. As a result, I believe I can relate to your struggles.

Doctor testing animal with a stethoscope

I offer counseling for veterinarians, veterinary medical students, veterinary technicians, groomers, shelter workers, and anyone else who works with animals. My sessions provide a safe space to vent, explore your feelings, and learn new ways to combat burnout and cope with stress.

What To Expect In Sessions

First and foremost, I will help you understand that you are not alone in what you’re going through. Mental health struggles in animal medicine are very real and very normal. Therapy can help you get to the core issues fueling your burnout and compassion fatigue. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you and I will explore the unhelpful thought patterns contributing to your low mood and focus on reframing your perspective.

Counseling can also help you process moral stress, pet grief and loss, and all the other day-to-day hardships of the veterinary world. There is so much trauma involved in animal care. Finding ways to process it can help you manage your stress and learn to “turn off” work when you get home. This way, you can achieve a healthier work-balance.

Additionally, I’ll give you practical skills that you can use in the workplace. You’ll learn to advocate for yourself, set boundaries, and communicate more effectively with clients and staff.

Ultimately, my goal is to help you reconnect with your empathetic self—the part of you that loves to help people and animals. I want you to feel rejuvenated about your work and remember why you got into animal care in the first place.

Common Questions About Counseling For Veterinarians…

Why do I feel this way when I love animals so much?

It is possible to love your work and feel stressed and burnt out. Veterinary medicine and other forms of animal care are tough, draining work. The support for veterinarians and staff is often very minimal. In therapy, I want to validate your feelings so that you don’t feel guilty for not always enjoying your work. You love animals and want to help, but that doesn’t mean you have to love every second of your job.

What if my school or employer finds out I’m in therapy?

Unless your school or employer is paying for your treatment, they will not know about it. My sessions are 100-percent confidential. I won’t disclose anything about our work together to anyone without a release. If you’re worried that your employer will find out about your treatment through your insurance company, you can always pay out of pocket.

Does going to therapy mean I’m not a good vet?

It means the exact opposite! You take on a lot of work and your work is very meaningful to you. Therapy is a sign of commitment and self-improvement. You want to take care of yourself and get help because caring for animals is so important to you.

Caring For Animals Is Hard Work. You Deserve Someone Who Understands That.

As a therapist with personal experience in the veterinary field, I believe I can relate to your struggles and help you deepen your love for what you do. To connect with me, you can email me or use the contact form.

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