Frontiers of Psychotherapist Development

At the Bleeding Edge of Development, Reaping Benefit for Our Clients.

7. Productivity for Therapists: The Top 5 What-Not-To-Dos (Part 1 of 2)


Busy man

“Thus we are busy people just like all other busy people,

rewarded for the rewards which are rewarded to busy people.”

– Henri Nouwen, from The Way Of The Heart, p.22.



Just do a google search, and you’d soon be inundated with many blogs and self-help books that specifically addresses the issue of raising productivity. Many of them provide useful to-do suggestions.

While trying to straddle conducting research, providing training and supervision, writing commitments, myriad of meetings, making time to create music, and maintaining a clinical practice, I found out that I had to take a deep look into the issue of productivity, especially since the birth of our beautiful one and a half year old daughter. I love being with her. It was also a crucial time that I work out my schedule, so that I can afford the capacity do the stuff that matters to me. This also means that I would have have to cull activities that are unnecessary time killers. Like useless and mindless meetings.

 Necessity is the mother of important learnings.

I realised this issue of time scarcity isn’t unique to me. Many of my colleagues are overwhelmingly busy, sometimes to the point of skipping lunches just to squeeze in a therapy hour for an ad-hoc client, or going home late so as to finish up a report.

I’ve decided to write this post for the busy therapist, but from a less common angle. I reckon that this is more crucial than telling you “what-to-do”, which you would probably already know.


Here’s the Top 5 things to do if you have a bizarre wish to get more busy and less productive:


It’s not uncommon to hear busy therapists say, “What can I do? It’s just the nature of my job,” “My boss just keeps piling more and more projects on my plate,” or we externalise it to the context “I’m in private practice. I need to focus on filling up my calendar, so that I can get enough income”

Suggestion: There is no easy answer to this, but the important thing here is that we need ask ourselves, “Who is responsible for me to be productive in my work?” Who protects me from being washed away by busy-ness and becoming less productive with my clients?” “What is enough?”

 The logical answer is our-selves. But we need this to resonate to the core of our beings, and to be able to feel this truth. Otherwise, as Henri Houwen puts it in the quote at the beginning of this post, busy folks would just reap, well,  more busy-ness.

We need ask ourselves,

“Who is responsible for me to become productive in my work?”


Busy-ness is addictive. When there is a demand for our time, it intrinsically leaves us feeling an illusory sense of worthiness. Do not confuse being busy as being productive. It is crucial slow down and ask yourself, “What does being productive mean to me? Does seeing more clients means being more productive? What do I need to help me be more productive, based on what I deem as being productive?”

Busy-ness is addictive. When there is a demand for our time,

it intrinsically leaves us feeling an illusory sense of worthiness.

Watch for the next post for the Top 3 countdown of What-not-to-do to stay productive!

1 Comment

  1. In terms of self -care I have found scheduling in a lunch break and sticking to this to be really helpful. Also taking a brief 15 min walk as part of this routine gives me a break and I feel rejuvenated for the afternoon sessions with clients. A good ap for momentary time out is Belly Bio it’s free and focuses on regular breathing. 5 min works wonders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.