Embracing the Summer Season:

Self-Care and Burnout Prevention for SUD Counselors

By CADTP Counselors • June 2023

As the warmth of the summer sun approaches, it serves as a timely reminder for SUD (Substance Use Disorder) counselors to prioritize self-care and prevent burnout. While the rewarding nature of our work is undeniable, it’s essential to acknowledge the challenges we face in supporting individuals on their recovery journey. In this article, we will explore practical strategies and insights to help SUD counselors rejuvenate their spirits, protect their well-being, and prevent burnout during the summer season and beyond.

Check out the slides below for some hot Summer tips on self-care for all the amazing SUD Counselors out there saving lives each and every day!

Acknowledge the Significance of Self-Care

Summer is a time of renewal and growth, making it the perfect opportunity to reflect on our own well-being. Begin by recognizing that self-care is not a luxury but an essential component of maintaining emotional and physical health. By prioritizing self-care, SUD counselors can better serve their clients and promote positive change.

Nurture Your Body and Mind

Engage in activities that promote physical and mental well-being. Take advantage of the longer days and embrace outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, or yoga. Engaging in regular exercise not only improves your physical health but also enhances your mood and reduces stress levels. Additionally, carve out time for mindfulness practices, meditation, or journaling to calm the mind and foster self-reflection.

Establish Healthy Boundaries

SUD counselors often dedicate significant emotional energy to their clients. While empathy and compassion are vital, setting healthy boundaries is equally important. Clearly define your working hours, allocate time for breaks, and establish boundaries between work and personal life. By doing so, you create space to recharge and prevent burnout.

Seek Support and Connection

Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with colleagues and other professionals in the field. Foster a supportive network by engaging in supervision, attending peer support groups, or participating in professional organizations. These connections provide a platform to share experiences, seek guidance, and find solace in the collective wisdom of fellow counselors.

Unplug and Recharge

The summer season offers a unique opportunity to unplug from technology and immerse yourself in activities that bring you joy. Set boundaries with your electronic devices and create designated tech-free zones or times during the day. Spend quality time with loved ones, explore hobbies, read for pleasure, or engage in creative pursuits. Allowing yourself to disconnect from work-related matters allows you to recharge and find inspiration outside the counseling sphere.

Cultivate Resilience

Resilience is a critical quality for SUD counselors to navigate the inevitable challenges and setbacks encountered in their work. Prioritize activities that boost your resilience, such as practicing gratitude, engaging in self-reflection, and cultivating a positive mindset. Celebrate your successes and remind yourself of the profound impact you make in the lives of others.

As summer approaches, it’s crucial for SUD counselors to embrace the season as a catalyst for self-care and burnout prevention. By nurturing our bodies and minds, establishing healthy boundaries, seeking support and connection, unplugging to recharge, and cultivating resilience, we can ensure our own well-being while continuing to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.

Remember, by taking care of ourselves, we become even better equipped to support others on their recovery journeys. Enjoy the summer season, embrace self-care, and let your light shine bright!

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez

Dr. Rodriguez was named the Executive Director of Gateway Corp in 2012.  Gateway Corp was developed as a non-profit, public charity and founded October 27, 2011. November 2014, she developed a clinical hub for Gateway Corp called OnSite Strategies. OnSite is also a United States Trademark.

She has held the position of CEO, Clinical Director, Lead Educator and Clinical Trainer as well as the Clinical Business Developer. She has fulfilled the roles of a clinical consultant, professional development consultant and has clinically supervised many SUD/addiction counselors, mental health professionals and addiction and family interventionists for over 12 years.

She has been active in the mental health field since 1995. She has also clinically trained throughout the US and provides clinical oversight for several organizations in California.

Dr. Rodriguez released her first book, “When the Rainbow Ends a Shadow from Heaven Appears" in 2017.” Her newest book, "The Cart, From Adversity to Collateral Beauty" is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2022.

Dr. Rodriguez is currently a writer for Rapporteur Magazine. Her focus is about Mental Wellness also covered topics to include ACE's, trauma, anxiety, and Systemic Racism.

Adriana Popescu, Ph.D.

Dr. Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist and empowerment coach with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field. She specializes in treating addictions and trauma, and has directed a number of treatment programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Founder and CEO of Firebird Healing, a trauma healing program, and the Clinical Director at Avery Lane, an innovative and holistic treatment program for women with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders and trauma.

Adriana has contributed to a number of books, including TJ Woodward's Conscious Being Workbook, the Conscious Recovery for Addiction and Conscious Recovery for Mental Health Workbooks, and the Conscious Creation Workbook, all of which she co-authored with him.

She has a private practice in San Francisco and travels around the world speaking, coaching, and facilitating transformational and empowering workshops. She also hosts a fascinating podcast called Kaleidoscope of Possibilities – Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health.

Adriana loves to bring the most innovative and effective tools to her work, empowering people to overcome their imagined limitations, release their self-judgments, and discover the brilliance within – creating a life of infinite possibilities.

Her first book, “What If You’re Not as F*cked Up As You Think”, was released in October.

Aven Armstrong-Sutton, Ph.D(c), RSW

Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services

Aven L. Armstrong-Sutton has been a practicing licensed social worker for over a decade. With diverse experience in settings such as health promotion, foster care, youth homelessness, outpatient mental health & addictions, and student support services, Aven currently serves as a Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services, managing a Live-In-Treatment Program and three outpatient treatment programs. Maintaining a part-time private practice, Aven’s multidisciplinary and integrative approach focuses on trauma and resilience among under-served communities.

June Price Tangney, Ph.D

Dr. Tangney received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA. She is currently University Professor and Professor of Psychology at George Mason. She is a Recipient of International Society for Self and Identity’s Distinguished Lifetime Career Award and Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and of APA’s Division of Personality and Social Psychology.

Dr. Tangney is coauthor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame and Guilt, coeditor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame in the Therapy Hour, coeditor (with Jess Tracy and Richard Robins) of The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research, and coeditor (with Mark Leary) of the Handbook of Self and Identity. She has served as Associate Editor for Self and Identity, Consulting Editor for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Psychological Assessment, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of Personality, and is currently Associate Editor of American Psychologist.

Her research on the development and implications of moral emotions has been funded by NIDA, NICHD, NSF, and the John Templeton Foundation. Currently, her work focuses on moral emotions among incarcerated offenders. She draws on theory and research in psychology and criminology to develop novel interventions that leverage inmates’ moral emotions and prosocial values. A recipient of GMU’s Teaching Excellence Award, Dr. Tangney strives to integrate service, teaching and clinically-relevant research in both the classroom and her lab.

Christina Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN

Founder and Director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition

Christina T. Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN, is the founder and director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition, which teaches practitioners around the world how to use diet, along with amino acid and nutrient therapy, to help prevent cravings and recurrent drug use. She has been a licensed psychotherapist working in the SUD treatment field since 1985 and a certified nutritionist specializing in mental health and addiction recovery since 1993.

Sean Bezdek, LMFT, MBA

Sean is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience working in mental health and substance abuse settings, in inpatient, PHP, and private practice. He holds b a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Philips Institute and an MBA from Baker College.

Sean’s clinical practice has specialized in working with Personality Disorders, Couples, Adolescents, and individual suffering from chronic mental illness. As a clinician Sean enjoys working with clients who can be resistant to traditional treatment and believes in the philosophy of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. BUT you can feed them saltines to make them thirsty!”

Sean is the Program Director for Akua Mind Body’s Sacramento inpatient mental health program. His prior leadership experience includes oversight of acute inpatient, utilization management, hospice/palliative care, home health and skilled nursing. Sean’s approach to management is to ensure the work that needs to get done gets done. “Our job is patient care. This include everything from making coffee to running groups. There is not one person who is more important that the other when it comes to providing exceptional care to the clients we serve.”