The Burnout System

The Burnout System

Curt and Katie talk about how the mental health system is set up to lead to burnout. We look at how therapists typically develop over their careers and how educational, licensing, regulation, and business factors can get in the way of this development.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

In this episode we talk about:

  • The shift from therapist development focus to a focus on client-care
  • Sacrificial Helping Syndrome, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout
  • The systemic problems that lead to burnout (education, licensing, regulation, business practices)
  • The impact of the economy on therapists being able to meet their developmental milestones
  • The standard developmental stages of therapists
  • The typical challenges of each stage and how a broken system can make these challenges even harder (or impossible) to navigate
  • Some of the educational or licensing requirements that seem to go against how people best learn and develop
  • The challenge of constantly being in crisis (whether it is about getting hours timely, financial strain, or working with clients with high risk) and trying to become a therapist
  • How the people around us while we are learning impacts how we develop as therapists
  • The struggle to set up a positive learning environment when you’re starting out as a therapist
  • The most important time of training (prelicensed years, especially the first 70 hours) being plagued with high productivity and clients with high risk, which lead to moving quickly, not becoming stronger clinicians
  • The reasons to slow down your prelicensed years for training and personal development and the challenges in doing so
  • The aspects of training that would be ideal (and seem almost magical and impossible)
  • Recovery-oriented training, crisis management, trauma-informed systems
  • The possibilities for improving public mental health and other workplaces to provide a better environment to start and grow as a clinician
  • EFT-Based Supervision as a good standard
  • The conversations that we need to have with stakeholders across the system to work toward change

Our Generous Sponsor:

Thanks again to our sponsor, Center For Discovery!

Center for Discovery provides evidence-based treatment for eating disorders, binge eating disorders, mental health, substance use, and co-occurring conditions nationwide. Discovery offers gender inclusive and gender-specific treatment with separate programming for adolescent and adults. Programs have a high staff to client ratio because individualized attention is critical when it comes to providing effective and efficient treatment. Learn more about these clinical programs at Discovery offers free resources including weekly support groups, a recovery app, free evaluations, and treatment scholarships. Learn more about Discovery’s Free Weekly Support Groups, for those struggling and loved ones, at Center For Discovery is a preferred provider and in-network with all major insurance companies.

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links.

Ben Caldwell Labs Blog Article

Saving Psychotherapy by Benjamin E. Caldwell

Katie’s concept of Sacrificial Helping Syndrome

Article on Stages of Development of a Therapist

Scott Miller’s work

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

EFT-Based Supervision


Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Group

Our event this year:

The Therapy Reimagined Conference in Los Angeles in October 2018!!

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, 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:

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. 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:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Group


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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