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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings



Aside from the practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I encourage clients to incorporate into their lives a routine dedicated to self-care—the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. Perhaps you’ve heard of this approach to wellness.


In both my counseling and social work graduate programs, self-care was frequently discussed. “In order to take care of others,” educational instructors would say, “we first need to take care of ourselves.”


In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for instructors to openly ask about self-care any time a student had an issue with practicum, internship, or advanced internship. For instance, if I expressed that faculty at an internship site was seemingly working against clients’ interests and goals; I’d receive a canned response.


“So what are you doing for self-care?” an instructor would reply. Honestly, I considered the topic annoying. However, when I began accumulating direct clinical hours with clients, I understood why the airline industry insists upon telling people to first apply their own oxygen mask in an emergent situation before helping others.


Thus, I truly needed to make sure that I was looking after my own mental, emotional, behavioral, and physical health before attempting to help others with these elements regarding their own lives. Additionally, this practice isn’t antithetical to REBT.


According to one REBT source, “Encourage your clients to commit themselves to daily emotional self-care, even if they do not feel disturbed.” After all, self-care isn’t akin to a parachute that’s used only when needed; it’s a daily practice.


Per a separate source, “Routine self-care is important when someone is not experiencing any symptoms of illness, but self-care becomes essential when illness occurs. General benefits of routine self-care include prevention of illness, improved mental health, and comparatively better quality of life.”


When working with clients, I use an analogy of pizza when discussing self-care. Although I’ve been criticized for comparing a relatively unhealthy dish – to include alteration of this comparison to encompass fruit pizza – the analogy is merely meant to clarify the matter.


Suppose you have a pizza cut into six slices. One piece of the dish relates to the mental, emotional, and behavioral work conducted in a psychotherapy session. Still, another slice relates to homework which is completed outside of session.


One slice represents some form of physical fitness (i.e., hiking, yoga, weight training, walking, etc.). As well, one piece of the pizza relates to sleep hygiene – perhaps one of the most crucial elements of any self-care regimen.


Additionally, one portion of the overall dish represents one’s social endeavors (i.e., friends, family, children, loved ones, etc.). And the final slice may involve journaling. Just as pizza comes in many varieties, so does self-care.


Some clients incorporate religious or spiritual practice into their pizza while others value nutrition, volunteerism, or incorporating nature into their practice. Each of my clients’ pizza is unique to them.


Importantly, there remains a difference between self-care and self-soothing—behavior intended to regulate one’s emotional state (e.g., sitting still for 15 minutes while practicing deep breathing). I understand how these two concepts may be confused.


Online, there are virtually countless resources conflating self-care with self-soothing. For instance, some people consider knitting, binge watching a streaming series, shopping, or getting a manicure or pedicure as representative of self-care.


However, I differentiate between something that is enjoyable, pleasurable, or relaxing as being akin to soothing, and that which incorporates a degree of difficulty, discomfort, or chosen suffering as relating to care. Does this suggestion seem contrary to your perspective of self-care?


Allow me to clarify. Regarding the slice of pizza that represents psychotherapy, contemplate what I stated in a blogpost entitled Therapeutic Safety:


What I offer at Hollings Therapy, LLC is the ability to explore what others likely refrain from telling you. Loved ones, friends, family members, and others simply may not want to violate your perception of safety, so they may not relay what you need to hear.


Thus, the piece of pizza I offer isn’t always enjoyable. This is because I’m not a psychotherapist who aims to help people feel better (self-soothing). Rather, REBT practitioners aim to help people get better (self-care). As such, the psychotherapeutic process can be uncomfortable.


Again, the pizza analogy isn’t representative of deliciousness and indulgence. It’s merely a comparison to parts (slices) of a whole (pizza) with which many people remain familiar.


As such, in addition to use of REBT, I encourage people to incorporate daily practice of self-care into their lives. This holistic approach to well-being has served me well since beginning to work with clients years ago, and I suspect it may also significantly benefit your life.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




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Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, June 21). Therapeutic safety. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Self-care. Retrieved from

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