Photo ID: A dog looking up with puppy dog eyes while laying on a dog bed with text overlay

Are You Burned Out or Are You Bored?

Curt and Katie chat about another type of burnout, “bore out.” We explore the difference between burnout and boredom. We talk about what might be unique to therapists’ jobs that would lead to boredom. We also dig into how dissociation can show up as either burnout or boredom. Finally, we share ideas on how modern therapists can mitigate some of the impacts of burnout, boredom, and vicarious trauma.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

In this podcast episode we talk about both burnout and “bore out”

Katie has been feeling a little bit bored lately, so she decided to do some research on what might be happening. She uncovered a concept “bore out” which seems to be the opposite of burnout, but with similar consequences. We decided to dig into this topic to see what therapists can do to try to avoid (or address) burnout.

What are the differences between burnout and boredom?

  • Burnout is overstimulation to the point of running out of energy
  • Boredom is under-stimulation to the point of lack of creativity and stagnation
  • Burnout is a pretty common topic, but “bore out” never really took off
  • People more likely to leave a job due to boredom

What are the types of boredom that therapists face?

“Is it stagnation, based on over-competence and overusing the same tools? Or is it stagnation based on a lack of competence and only having a tiny few tools to use?” – Katie Vernoy, LMFT

  • Clinical boredom (repeated stories, lack of progress)
  • Repetitive clinical work (due to niche, evidence-based practice)
  • Notes and documentation are frequently described as boring
  • Trauma therapists may become cynical
  • Vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and moral injury
  • Desensitization and disengagement of vicarious trauma can feel like boredom
  • Dissociation may also be part of this disengagement

What can therapists do to address boredom?

“I think if we go from burnout to boredom, I think we get really scared of adding anything in because we’re worried we’re going to be overwhelmed.” – Katie Vernoy, LMFT

  • Clinical consultation and your own therapy
  • Professional development and continuing education
  • Refreshing your knowledge and bringing new techniques into session
  • Adequate stimulation to get work done
  • Doing things in small doses
  • Reframing things to make them more positive (not “onerous” or “boring”)


Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Ness Labs: Is it burnout or boreout?

Forbes: Burned Out Or Bored Out? The Engagement Challenge Few Are Talking About

Forbes: Why Boredom At Work Is More Dangerous Than Burnout

Inc. You’re Not Burned Out. You’re Bored Out: Boredom at work can have severe consequences. But you can turn things around.

Science Direct: Bored or burning out? Reciprocal effects between job stressors, boredom and burnout

Wikipedia: Boreout

LinkedIn: Burn-out or bore-out? Lookalikes but very different.


Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

The Burnout System

Addressing the Burnout System

Burnout or Depression?

Choosing Yourself as a Therapist: Strategies to address burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma – An Interview with Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Is This My Stuff? How therapists can sort through countertransference: An Interview with Dr. Amy Meyers, LCSW

Niche Burnout, An Interview with Laura Long, LMFT/S

Noteworthy Documentation: An Interview with Dr. Ben Caldwell, LMFT

Make Your Paperwork Meaningful: An Interview with Maelisa Hall, Psy.D.

Is AI Really Ready for Therapists? An interview with Dr. Maelisa McCaffrey


Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


Buy Me A Coffee

Podcast Homepage

Therapy Reimagined Homepage





Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).

… 0:00
(Opening Advertisement)

Announcer 0:00
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe, and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm, and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 0:16
Welcome back modern therapists, this is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about the things that go on in our practices, the ways that we show up with clients, the things that happen to us, and maybe just kind of tending to ourselves and being able to look at an interesting new perspective that Katie has brought up to me, and this is getting into: What’s burnout? What’s boredom? What’s compassion fatigue? And really, you know, kind of getting into, you know, the studies of boredom, you know, sigh-ence.

Katie Vernoy 0:56
So interesting. I have, I’ve been feeling a bit tired, and at times bored. And I was trying to figure out what’s going on. And this isn’t just with work, it’s kind of overall. And you know, I may be in a season of life where this is going to be normal. But I really wanted to figure out what’s the difference between boredom and burnout. Like, that’s where I started. I was like, Okay, I have really backed away from a lot of stuff, because I was very burned out. Like, we were doing conferences, and I was doing lots of stuff. And I just was running on empty a lot of the time. And so for me, backing down, being able to take a slower pace was refreshing for a period of time. But then it became kind of oppressive to me. I was like, I’m just bored. And so I was trying to figure out what’s the balance, because I would add stuff back in or I would do a little something, and I would get burned out again. You know, when we were recording for our Patreon folks, I kind of was talking about this pattern of kind of going to this burnout place. And I’ll explain the difference of these things. Where you’re very overwhelmed, you’re, you’re overstimulated, you’ve put way too much on your plate, and then you run out of energy, you run out of gas, right? So that’s burnout, we know what that is. But then once you do that, and you back down, and then you’re doing barely anything, then you become very under stimulated. And you’re feeling potentially, like, I don’t know what the right word is.

Curt Widhalm 2:35

Katie Vernoy 2:36
Well bored, but cynical, irritated, low energy, you might feel worthless, like I’m not doing anything with any purpose or meaning; you might just struggle with the daily sameness of it, all that kind of stuff. And I’ve got some of these descriptions from articles that I found during my research on a concept called bore out.

Curt Widhalm 3:01

Katie Vernoy 3:01
And so to me, I was like, Okay, that makes sense. You hide out if you’re in a corporate or a, you know, community mental health or other agency environment, and don’t let people know ‘I’m under stimulated, I’m not doing enough’ because you’re so worried about getting burned out by doing too much. And so you sit in this space of just not doing very much and feeling really awful. And that leads to stagnation, and a lack of professional development. I was like, Oh, okay. Now, the interesting part is one of the articles went back to like, 2007 or 2008. And I’m not going to list all of them, but I’ll put them in the show notes, you’ll see where my rabbit hole went down, and you’ll see all these articles. And some of them have really good advice on what to do and, and all that stuff. But this is not a new concept, this concept of bore out. And then in like 2015, 16, 17, 18, somewhere in there, there was a flurry of other articles about bore out. And I’m sitting here going like, I didn’t hear about this at the time, which is very strange, because I was studying burnout, she would think that that would have come across my my desk so to speak. But also if we think about the pandemic, and how people were hiding out at home, you know, the folks who were you know, able to work remotely and all the people talking about like yeah, my day is spent jiggling my mouse so that I am online. And so it was the epitome of bore out they’re like doing other stuff they’re pretending to be busy enough, all of those things and terrified they’re gonna be found out and and having this meaninglessness experience. Now granted, all of us were being traumatized by the pandemic, so maybe bore out wasn’t exactly right. But I’m surprised that this concept hasn’t been more in the public discourse because it makes so much sense. And that you know, all the articles were talking about like boredom and bore out leads to turnover, people are very likely to leave their job if they’re bored. And so to me, I’m like, Why have I never gone down this rabbit hole before. And maybe it was just because I was too overwhelmed. And so I was just, I was cruising along and burnout for a very long time. So, so that’s kind of the beginning of the overview. And I feel like I need to get your response to this because you’re looking very thoughtful.

Curt Widhalm 5:27
So, I’m doing a good job of focusing, and not just tuning out in boredom or overwhelm or anything like that.

Katie Vernoy 5:36
Yes, you are. Good job.

Curt Widhalm 5:38
Coming up with a bunch of different theories, like what about 2007 made more out kind of a thing there? So I’m like, Well, okay, great recession era kind of thing, which was, maybe. I’m also…

Katie Vernoy 5:55
People getting laid off or whatever, right?

Curt Widhalm 5:57
Sure. I’m also thinking about a lot of like ADHD therapists who might also really resonate with under-stimulated and not just exclusive to them, but any therapists who might feel under stimulated in stagnation. And my mind is also going to just kind of like you’re talking about, like career development. We’ve talked in bits and pieces before about like, after people get licensed. And after they become like a supervisor, there’s not like a clear cut career path for a lot of like, being able to climb the corporate ladder, so to speak, in our field. So, my mind’s going kind of in a lot of different places to be like, Alright, how does this apply to therapists, because some of this seems to be kind of on the macro level, as you’re introducing it. I’m also kind of thinking that there’s probably some just even on a session by session basis that people who might struggle hearing the same stories from either multiple clients in like a specific niche, hearing the same story week after week from the same client that might just be kind of a therapeutic impasse that is kind of a counter transference reaction. So I have all kinds of ideas that I’ve just thrown at you and curious which ones we should prioritize first.

Katie Vernoy 7:22
So, I like the initial part, which goes to the clinical boredom for lack of a better word or, or lack of stimulation, let’s let’s say it that way. Because I don’t know that therapists are going to admit that they get bored with their clients. And maybe you and I can just say that there are times when I get bored with my clients, can we say that? Is that okay to say?

Curt Widhalm 7:43
I know that we have non-therapist listeners that reach out to us from time to time and give us feedback. And sometimes it’s very supportive. Sometimes it’s How dare you say what you’re saying kind of thing. So if that is maybe a reaction that you’re having at the moment, hear us out. But I think one of my very first therapists like this was back when I was in college. Like I was talking in session, and it works in the moment, but the therapist is like, you’re not saying anything new. In fact, you’re getting kind of boring talking about this. So it was kind of a kind of a charge to like, Oh, I really need to, like, step up and do something about this. So, I think that there’s, in that particular instance, there was an intentionality about it.

Katie Vernoy 8:33

Curt Widhalm 8:35
I will also admit that there have been sessions where I’ve been bored, I’ve been under stimulated. I think, if therapists are not necessarily admitting that or processing that the responsible piece of this is going into consultation about it; admitting it, kind of getting to the core of it. But it’s part of the human experience in any job. Like, it’s really something that, I think is a normal human reaction and normal human process. So, we work to not do it, it still happens.

Katie Vernoy 9:10
Sure. And I think when it’s about the client, I think the way that your first therapist used it clinically, was masterful, right? Like that is awesome. And it’s so you. And so I think it really fits that your therapist was able to go like, ‘Dude, you’re boring me. Get your act together.’ Whereas if somebody said that to me, I would be crushed, right? So, I think that there’s those elements where it’s really understanding what’s happening in the room and using it. And so I want you know, for those who are clinicians, newer clinicians or clients who are like listening to us talk about getting bored clinically, I think that there are things where when clients get stuck, sometimes it is boring. It is our job to get past that boredom and understand it and like be with them and help them to move out of that stuckness. But then there’s parts that I think are ours. And so I want to, I want to go into that, which is when we do what you and I have said to do, and a lot of people have said to do, and we get a really tight niche. And we also are working from an evidence base or have kind of tried and true clinical tools. We’re telling them the same thing, we’re telling all of our clients a lot of the same things over and over again. We’re also hearing a lot of the same stories like you had mentioned before. And that is not on them. Like, if they fit into that tight little niche, we need to figure out how to stay engaged with that client and identify how we’re going to remain stimulated, we’re going to remain engaged in the work, empowered by the work so that we can show up for them. And that can go into self care. And that’s not in this episode. But I think it is something where if we get so caught into, you know, staying really tight and and doing the same stuff, it can be pretty damaging to us as professionals, because we’re going to stagnate.

… 11:02
(Advertisement Break)

Curt Widhalm 11:04
Yeah, I’m thinking of the ways that this has come up in supervision when I’ve been the supervisor. I’ve been thinking about the ways that this comes up in consultation, whether it’s consultations that I’m a part of as a group member, or ones that I lead. And I think that there’s a hesitation a lot of times to first admit that this is even happening. But it’s such a crucial part of actually evaluating and dealing with your countertransference.

Katie Vernoy 11:36
Oh, yeah.

Curt Widhalm 11:37
And just even being able to start with what is coming up in the sessions? How are you feeling, kind of moment by moment through it? And in those situations, it’s kind of a very important piece to be able to say like, I get bored when this client starts rambling on about this. And being able to dive into that and process that and be able to kind of follow that to some of the why, or some of the what, what is the client’s experience of you being bored and being able to imagine that that helps us to actually be able to address that and bring it back to clinical utility?

Katie Vernoy 12:19

Curt Widhalm 12:20
If you’re talking about the therapeutic experience that I had as a client, that it was done, masterfully, but I can also see that coming from a very cynical side of just like, you know, that isn’t done masterfully, that can become very grating. And I think that that’s the caution in being able to be like, hey, audience, go and tell all your clients that they’re boring. You know, tell them like, you know, you haven’t really been saying anything new lately. Why don’t you like quit your job at like, go on hiatus and just like, have some new stressors to come in and talk about?

Katie Vernoy 12:56
Yeah, yeah, or just get out of that relationship, or just do the thing that you’ve been talking about doing forever? You know, I think that there’s, there’s a piece to this, where it is the clinical piece, it is what’s going on with the client. But I want to go back to the professional development part. I think there are some therapists that do this very well. But when they start getting bored clinically, with I am saying that, I’m saying the same things, I’m doing the same things, I’m hearing the same stories. They go and actually get real professional development, continued education kind of training, which is one of the recommendations on one of these million articles that I read. But it is something where the more you’re able to dig into it and get something new and different or, or refreshing in some way, I think you can avoid some of this. Because you can start bringing new things into session, you can start asking different questions, hearing different things, or, and we had an episode with Laura Long, a long time ago about niche burnout, you can also kind of go deeper, you know, go one direction or the other, you can expand out or you can go you know, kind of vertical niche development, where you actually add different types of folks to your caseload. So, you get a little bit more diversity in who you’re seeing and what you’re hearing. And that’s about professional development. I think those things should happen in supervision as wel. Like, yes, find out what’s happening with the client. But if it’s about the clinician, I think going into this space of determining where are they sitting? Is it stagnation based on over competence and using overusing the same tools? Or is it stagnation based on a lack of competence and only having a tiny few tools to use? I mean, I think those things can be very interesting in supervision, and as and for self reflection. But, but we’re not even deep into like all the different ways that therapists can do bore out. So, so, the clinical part I think, is the most interesting to you and I but I want to make sure that we we go further. So any final thoughts on that before I move into some of these other, other pieces?

Curt Widhalm 15:06
The one last piece that I want to add to what you’re talking about here is also just kind of the flow that you might have during the day. Like, do you have the wrong client at the wrong time? Like, are you working with somebody with major depression 30 minutes after you eat heavy lunch kind of things that might also be contributing to this. So, there is kind of some self management. I really love what you’re talking about, as far as not having enough tools. I hadn’t considered that as one of the the maybe leading causes of where this could potentially be maybe, especially for early career clinicians. But I really liked I really liked that point that you’re bringing up. But we have whole macro level systems kinds of things that are also going on with this?

Katie Vernoy 15:56
Well, I think there’s there’s notes and documentation that I think most therapists get bored with, right? And we’ve had a lot of different episodes with people talking about documentation, but the requirement for medical necessity and for reporting back and doing all those things, I get it, I understand it. It’s something that I put off, and I have, I struggle to do, because it feels boring to me. Not the clinical conceptualization, and I know that this is a mechanism to be able to make sure I’m doing that. But the actual writing the words in the template, just is excruciating to me.

Curt Widhalm 16:40
What have you ever tried to do to change that?

Katie Vernoy 16:45
Well, I think kind of taking advice from neurodivergent folks, as you and I are both discovering we are neurodivergent as well, I try to make sure that the level of stimulation that I have while I’m doing these things is adequate. And so oftentimes, I need to do it at a certain time of day with music, and not music that I’m necessarily going to sing along to just something to keep me a little bit more energized. But one of the articles I said also is like divide those tasks up. And so yes, and no, I think sometimes that works. Sometimes if I just do the note right after the session, if I feel emotionally capable to do so, sometimes I have to process it a bit more. Then it feels like the task is just gone. And I’m like, Oh, what a relief. But this week, I have been exhausted. And so I have eight notes to do today. And so I’m going to be blasting some music, doing it at a time where I only have a limited amount of time to do it. So I’m gonna be like, Okay, I just need to get it done before. And I’m like creating a false sense of urgency. What have you done to try to help get your documentation to be less onerous? Or is documentation fun for you? I should, I shouldn’t make that assumption.

Curt Widhalm 17:55
Several years ago, probably like five or six years ago, I was listening to a podcast or talk about like streamlining, having templates for your notes kind of things.

Katie Vernoy 18:06

Curt Widhalm 18:06
That podcaster is you. And…

Katie Vernoy 18:09
Yeah, no, I’ve done that. Yeah.

Curt Widhalm 18:11
That has seemingly been something where having the right system in place to do it is been helpful. It makes it a lot easier to just kind of get done with the session and get documentation done. It’s not letting it pile up is really what helped me the most with this. But as far as a task of just sitting down and doing documentation kinds of things. If it was something that stacked up, I don’t know that I have anything that is helpful for our audience that is like here is something that takes this tasks and makes it less onerous, makes it more exciting. With everything being digital these days, it’s not even like you can use like different colored pens to just like, break it up a little bit.

Katie Vernoy 19:02
Well, people could go back and listen to our episodes with Melissa McCaffrey and learn about AI as a possibility, I guess. But I think for me, the the real thing is understanding that there’s going to be parts of the job that are just less pleasurable, and not trying to imagine that I always need to be feeling good. But you know, sometimes we just gotta suck it up and do the job, you know? So…

Curt Widhalm 19:29

Katie Vernoy 19:30
I don’t know what else to say about that.

Curt Widhalm 19:31
I guess the thing that comes to mind right now for me is sometimes my intervention with clients is a Venn diagram of like, wants to dos and has to dos. And I try to just move things like documentation into my own little like overlap thing, because if it’s a have to do, that gets me to doing the things that I want to do. Then if I just changed my attitude going into it, you know, that you’re that good CBT like, Alright, I’m going to want to get this done so I can reward myself with something else. But if it’s starting with just kind of the attitude, I guess even that we’re talking about that this is an onerous task, I think we might be setting ourselves up for falling into these traps in the first place. Even if we’re talking about, you know, kind of the the ways that we’re talking about clients here even it’s like, we know that some clients are going to feel under stimulating for us. I’m totally taking this back to the clinical and I, I’ve…

Katie Vernoy 20:33
There you go.

Curt Widhalm 20:34
But it’s, it’s even being able to kind of take that pause right before those sessions to be like, Okay, I need to bring this awareness to myself, I need to not frame my client mentally in this way to be able to do this. Okay, I am done last piece on the clinical thing for now.

… 20:50
(Advertisement Break)

Katie Vernoy 20:50
Well, we’re, I’m actually going to dive in to more of the clinical piece, because I think there’s that element of, for those of us who work with trauma, we can become very cynical, because of all of the worst parts of humanity that we see and talk about. We can also go into a space and I think this is part where I’m kind of diverging from boredom, a little bit to dig into something else is when we’re working with folks who are traumatized telling us their trauma stories, or we’re seeing their their response to trauma, there’s obviously vicarious trauma. There can be compassion fatigue. There can be times when if we don’t have the tools or resources to really help them it can go into moral injury. We have episodes on those, I’ll just link to our whole burnout thing in our in our show notes. But I think that there’s that element, if we become desensitized, or disengaged, which both are; disengagement is bore out, basically, it’s based on on how it’s been described. That in itself can feel like or potentially be portrayed as boredom. And I know when we were we were prepping for this episode, you were saying, Well, you know, dissociation and boredom feels different to you. And I was like, well, not necessarily for me. So, I want to dig into that a little bit. Because I think, even in our clinical work, when we’re having our own responses, and all of those things, there may be additional forces that either exacerbate or cause some boredom.

Curt Widhalm 22:28
Yeah, our discussion and I think we kind of started it before we started recording this episode, and kind of saving, I guess, the meat of this discussion for during this.

Katie Vernoy 22:41

Curt Widhalm 22:42
I had said that, for me, kind of that dissociated feeling that comes with being burned out, being overwhelmed, being in kind of that compassion fatigue space, feels internally different than what boredom does. To me, boredom is kind of that under stimulated, like I need something to do, I need something to kind of take my energy and put it into in order to be able to keep moving forward. Whereas kind of that dissociated, burnout is like, I need to, at least in the immediacy of things, I need something that is taking the… I’m processing this as we’re talking about it. So..

Katie Vernoy 23:26
I’m staying with you, I’m here, I’m here.

Curt Widhalm 23:28
I, I need something that is extremely low level stimulating, but allows for me to just kind of sit back and have something that’s there to engage. Like, there’s nights that I get home from work, and my wife’s like, you want to watch something on Netflix or something like that? And then we kind of have our discussion of like, what tier of concentration do you have? Could you watch deep documentary about social changes and this kind of stuff? Or is this rewatch whatever sitcom, you know, Community, The Office, something else that you’ve seen a million times that’s just there for stimulation, and doesn’t require a lot of brain power to do things? So to me, more of that dissociative burnout is those nights where I’m coming home. And it’s like, I’ve seen the show, you know, five, six times. It sounds great. I can just sit here on the couch. There’s something there. To me that is different from the I’m looking for something to do. And I don’t have anything to scratch this itch. So to me, that’s the difference between the boredom and the burnout.

Katie Vernoy 24:37
Why it’s dissociation I think, is what we’re talking about. But yeah, I liked that you, you made that distinction because I felt the dissociative burnout. Which is I’m so overstimulated I go into kind of this dissociative desensitized state where it’s like, you know, I call it kind of being punchy. No, no focus, you know, I you know, I start staring at the like, you know, my husband knows I’m in this space, because he’ll talk to me. And he’ll be like, “Where do you go?” And I’m just like staring off in space. And that’s because I’ve just had so much and I’ve lost all my energy. I’m actually talking about kind of, it’s almost like the dysthymia element of dissociation, where it’s just, I have stopped connecting with my body, I’ve stopped connecting with my emotions, I have shut everything down as a protective space just to kind of get into, let me get through the session, nothing can touch me because I need to be able to see them as a puzzle versus getting too emotionally attached to this. And, and I don’t engage emotionally with their stories, I don’t engage emotionally with my own reactions. And I get very dissociated. And I’m, and to me, I can sometimes do that without knowing. And I’ve gotten a lot better. But I think back to when I was working, before I even thought about being a therapist, I was working in community mental health with kids who had been taken from their families and put into group homes. And it was very instructive and pretty horrible. And I would not recommend it to anyone. It’s a job. But I became so desensitized to traumatic stories that I would like go and watch something that ever was like, it’s so gritty. And I’m like, that was the most boring thing I watched ever. Like, it was just it was, you know, I guess we’re getting into the self care elements. But I was so disconnected from my own experience. And I think when our lives get really overwhelmed, I started getting a flavor of it. When I when I was deep into grief at different points. I’m like, Yeah, I’m just here. And this is what I got, I’ve got this window of, you know, I can pay attention, and I can be connected, and I can use my tools. But otherwise, there’s nothing going on behind the scenes. And I was like, I’m bored. I was like, No, I think I was just completely dissociated, and not really recognizing it. And so I think we’re talking about two different experiences, it seems like.

Curt Widhalm 27:02
Yeah, maybe another example of what you’re talking about here to add to it is I look at kind of the discussions that I have with other therapists, or even some of my own, you know, kind of early career looking at, like, child abuse reporting. Like, there were things and I still see early career clinicians, you know, kind of feel like, well, this, this is child abuse needs to be reported. And from experiences like yours, that you’re describing there, from seeing really horrific child abuse, there’s just kind of a, like, okay, internally that has not met a threshold that I am looking at it in the same way that you are.

Katie Vernoy 27:02

Curt Widhalm 27:04
Sometimes, as supervisors or educators, we can become dismissive of that level of concern. And so it’s really being able to have kind of good evaluative processes when it comes to stuff like this. Because as you’re describing one person’s experience might be wishing them so far out of were kind of the the central part of our profession is that would be mostly in agreement, why it’s so necessary to be in consultation process, your experience, countertransference, this kind of stuff has to get those different perspectives. So…

Katie Vernoy 28:23
Yeah. So I think the question here, and I know we’re running low on time, but the question here is, really, is this the state of dissociated compassion fatigue anywhere near boredom? And I think, maybe, maybe not.

Curt Widhalm 28:40
I think from the outside, it can look the same.

Katie Vernoy 28:45

Curt Widhalm 28:45
And I think what we’ve spent this episode really kind of describing is that the behavior looks the same, the function of it is incredibly different. And really being able to kind of tease out where where it’s coming from, is what guides us into how we do the self care management, how we do the structure sort of stuff, to be able to deal with the problem, not just the behavior.

Katie Vernoy 29:16
Well and even if it feels the same internally or you aren’t clear on what you’re feeling internally, I think being able to identify that if I am dissociated I need to be able to reconnect, process, do whatever I need to do. If I am bored, I need to find my way to things that are going to be more meaningful that are going to reinvigorate my interest in whatever I’m doing, or, or find hobbies outside of work or other things like that. But I have one more before we close up, I have one more thing to consider for those of us who are in private practice. And that is the lack of structure. And you were kind of starting to mention that and I think there’s a lot of us, you know, some folks are doing like a 20 to 30 session week and you know, their, their hair’s on fire, and they’re probably more at risk for burnout than this bore out thing. But a lot of us, I think, find our emotional capacity at 10 to 15. And I’m talking about me, not you. And I find that I get overwhelmed when I go too close to 20. But there are a ton of additional hours, outside of that 15 client hours that I am now working. And some of it is like, I have to do paperwork, I have to do marketing, I have to do some of these other things. But some of it is like, I have to get my head around, I can have a personal life, I can work less than 40 hours.

Curt Widhalm 30:41
I can make a side hustle.

Katie Vernoy 30:43
I can do a side hustle, I can take these expensive trainings, I can do all this stuff to try to combat boredom that all these folks have done. I can take on supervisees, I can I can get supervision, I can get mentorship, I can mentor someone. Like we do a lot of stuff to try to combat boredom. But I think if we go from burnout, to boredom, I think we get really scared of adding anything in because we’re worried we’re going to be overwhelmed. And we don’t have this this perfect little schedule. And all of us are going to need different schedules anyway. But we don’t have a perfect schedule that says, if you do this schedule, you won’t be burned out and you won’t be bored out. You will be just fine. You’ll, you’ll stay in your window of tolerance or window of capacity or how you’re going to be great if you just do this amount of work. And it’s like no, that’s different for each person. It’s different for different parts of your life. But I think we want to recognize that both are a risk; being way too overstimulated, and overwhelmed and get into burnout. But there’s also that risk of getting bored. And that can be very dangerous too. And, you know, I think that one of the studies said that some people leave their job like 43% of people leave their job because they’re bored. Like this is something we actually have to pay attention to.

Curt Widhalm 31:57
You can find our show notes over at Follow us on our social media, join our Facebook group, the Modern Therapists Group to continue this discussion. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy.

… 32:11
(Advertisement Break)

Announcer 32:13
Thank you for listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. Learn more about who we are and what we do at You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter. And please don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any of our episodes.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *