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Emotional Exhaustion

    • Moderator
    • 62 posts
    November 19, 2013 1:29 PM EST

    I had the most emotionally exhausting day working with my human patient base today. It was not the complexity of the injuries. It was the emotional component that drained me. Does that sound familiar to you? I had one very controlling, directing exact person - who was so particular, based on her perception of how the treatment needed to proceed - not on making gains or progress.  Even when I understand this client is overwhelmed with the injury process, it makes for a difficult communication process.  Do you have clients who question every change, every treatment protocol - sometimes because that is not how my other veterinarian treated this same problem?  Doesn’t that feel like your judgment is being questioned at every turn? How do you keep your professional cool in the face of relentless questioning?

    The easy solution is to just do what the client wants, regardless of the effectiveness. When you ignore the underlying emotional issues they do not go away, they just stay there as a barricade to building a rapport with your client.


    What I did was to address the emotional component. Here are some of my questions that work in any setting.  What is your best outcome in this situation?  What is your worst fear?  What additional information do you need to proceed or make a decision?

    Then I ended my day by recognizing that I was emotionally drained and needed to spend some time on myself. What options can you use to regain your balance?

    • Asking for help- let others team up with you when the client is demanding
    • Reflect on what was positive about the experience
    • Be grateful that every encounter is not as difficult
    • Practice self-care- go exercise, take a quiet break- whatever helps you regain balance

    I have been both proud and embarrassed by my reactions to difficult clients. What I learn from these tough ones I use for the next time.  It is only by reflecting and learning that I can improve how I handle the next tough case.  At the end of the day I cannot change how other people react to difficult situations, only how I choose to respond.   What types of clients do you find most difficult and why?