office workerWhen we write books we review hundreds of research studies—combing the literature for evidence based treatments as well as interesting new possibilities. We spent many months preparing and writing our last book on child psychology and development. We took a huge amount of material and clinical experience and organized what we (and many reviewers) believe is an original way to conceptualize childhood and child psychopathology.

So, one afternoon, after a grueling day of working at home sitting in front of the computer screen, we decided that we needed a change of position (and our tired eyes, aching backs, and sore behinds agreed). We were spending way too much of our recent life writing about people and their problems. Although we do get many emails from people who read our books and benefit from them, it’s not the same as having someone in person in your office who gets better, and feels better. So, in a moment of pure madness, we decided to go back into a limited psychology practice. We want to work with kids and their families and put to use some of the techniques we’ve been writing about.

So far, we’ve probably spent 100 hours of very stressful work and have yet to see a client. And we’re weeks away from beginning. Private practice is not what it was a couple of decades ago. We’ve been filling out pages and pages of forms in order to get on insurance panels. And the government forms—it takes hours just to find the right agency in order to get to an application that is 58 pages long. Good grief. Signing leases, getting phones, computer access, fax lines (because some people don’t scan), office furniture; it goes on and on.

Then there are the phone calls. Does anyone at an office ever answer the phone anymore? You get those long voice mail responses that so and so is either on another line or unavailable, but they will call you back. Three days later they call back during the one time you’re in the shower or otherwise occupied. Then you return the call and it’s back to voice mail.

Starting a small business up is not easy. But, we are thankful that we can find work. With so many people unemployed, we shouldn’t get too stressed out about back to work stress. We love psychology and the work of helping people. Now, that’s better. I just needed to realize what I’m grateful about. The stress is starting to ease.

Photo by Matt Seppings, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.



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    Last reviewed: 9 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Smith, L. (2011). Back to Work Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 1, 2015, from


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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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