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Five Ways Therapists Can Get An Instant Grip On Overload

92296_8905Work overload comes up again and again at every busy mental health or addiction program (and also private practices.) Especially now that new healthcare requirements are cutting staff down to the bone and increasing bureaucratic regulations are making paperwork mountains.

Everyone, it seems, is doing their job, and someone else’s. 

I really needed these tips last week. They may seem obvious, but even habitually effective work habits can always be upgraded.


We all think we have a handle on this but if you don’t really take five solid minutes to write down tasks in order of importance or urgency each morning before the day begins or each afternoon before you leave (for tomorrow), you may be neglecting or forgetting things that have to get done in a timeline.

What items are priority? Those that immediately impact patient care and those with deadlines. Everything else can go next on the list.

You will often have to revise as the day goes along.


Overbooked? I always encourage clinicians to avoid rescheduling clients.

Try to reschedule sales people, networking meetings, informational meetings, and other non-essentials if possible.

I don’t like rescheduling meetings relating to patient care unless there is an urgent reason. Obviously conferences and meetings with a lot of attendees are harder to reschedule.


If you have assistance (interns, staff members, etc.) and there are tasks that they can do nearly as well as you can, go for it.

Don’t be shy, delegate to patients and others who want something from you. For example, if a patient calls you up and asks you to fill in a form for him to bring to school or work, ask him to fill in what he can (his name, address, etc.) and have him bring the form to his next appointment for you to complete. If he needs a letter written, have him write down what the letter needs to contain and email to you if possible.


Never underestimate the power of reasonable negotiation. Most people are willing to meet you halfway (unless there is a mandate). If you get a call from an agency or other professional involved in patient care requiring a weekly patient report for example, ask them if it is possible to send a monthly or bi-monthly report.

Take A Break

Go out for lunch. (I am guilty of eating lunch at my desk while working nearly every day. I do not recommend it if at all possible).

Take a walk.

Open a window, stick your head out, and get some fresh air.

Breathe deeply. Drink a glass of water.

Do 10 push ups and 10 sit ups.

Go to the gym on your lunch break.

Close your office door, hang up a Do Not Disturb sign, turn off the lights, and play a relaxing MP3 for 7 minutes.

Write a poem to take home to your spouse or loved one.




Five Ways Therapists Can Get An Instant Grip On Overload

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2013). Five Ways Therapists Can Get An Instant Grip On Overload. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 11, 2018, from


Last updated: 11 Nov 2013
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Nov 2013
Published on All rights reserved.