How to Help Others without Burning Out

by | Mar 29, 2023

This is part of an interview series with our certified Forward-Facing® coaches. In this series, we’ll take some time to get to know our coaches, how they found Forward-Facing® and how they’re using it in both the professional and personal lives. This post contains highlights from the interview. The whole interview is coming soon.

Natasha is a seasoned professional and speaker in the field of Mental Health Counseling serving as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the states of Florida, Oregon and Washington and a Florida Qualified Supervisor for Headspace Health where she provides short term outpatient counseling to Headspace Health members.

Prior experience includes over 15+ years of industry experience in the field of mental health counseling, primary/secondary/higher education and child development. She maintains the flexibility and adaptability to excel in demanding and high stress environments maintaining a high degree of professionalism, accuracy, and consistency. 

Find her coaching bio

Thank you so much for being willing to speak with me. Why don’t you introduce yourself?

My pronouns are she/her/hers. I’m a licensed mental health counselor, seeing folks in 3 different states. I’m a certified compassion fatigue professional, clinical trauma professional, compassion fatigue educator, and now a Forward-Facing® Professional Resilience Coach and Consultant. I also do public speaking on the side. 

Since getting into the Forward-Facing® world, I’m really passionate about helping folks understand that the caring work they do does not have to lead to burnout – that they can be sustainable in this field. 

I’ve had the privilege of presenting to 50 different audiences at this point from as large as 300 to as small as 3, and I’m really excited to get the message out and explain how it’s affected me and how it’s affected people I’m working with. 


How did you find Forward-Facing®?

We’ve got to go back in time a little bit: so back in February of 2020, the last time I sat in a conference room for a long time, I did my CCTP (Certified Clinical Trauma Professional) training with Eric Gentry. I remember watching those videos and thinking, “I can’t believe this man is holding my attention for 6 hours at a time.” I was really blown away by the skills I learned in that training. 

So when he offered Narrative Exposure Therapy, I did that training as well. I partnered with a Dean of Nursing down in St. Pete. Because I was worried, with the pandemic, that we were going to end up with a generation of nurses all dealing with PTSD. I didn’t think our healthcare system could handle that and I wanted to do something. 

So I said, I’m a clinician. There’s got to be something I can do. She and I partnered together and we were offering these support groups on Saturdays, but I didn’t feel like I was doing enough. I wasn’t making enough of an impact. 

So me being me, I said, “I need more training.” and ended up finding a certified compassion fatigue professional course and came across Dr. Gentry’s name and I was sold. If Dr. Gentry’s teaching it, then I am in. 

I did not expect it to change my life. And no exaggeration, that’s exactly what happened. 

It’s given me insight into my past. It’s helped me resolve a lot of stuff that was unresolved personally about my professional career as a caregiver. And I’ve been a caregiver since 15 – my first job was at a pediatrician’s office. 

I didn’t realize how much of my own stuff was all tangled up in my work as a therapist. I’ve been in therapy for a long time, had some fantastic therapists who have helped me a lot – but nothing has helped me the way this has helped me. 


When I got my Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional designation, I was like, “I can change the world. I have the secret to the universe here.” 


I was receiving Forward-Facing® emails and had the opportunity to do Jenny Brackman’s 7-week course, FFME and that was so great to connect with a room full of people all doing this. So when they were offering training for professional resilience coaching, I was ready to go! 

To learn from the man himself and hear him bring his research to life, to be paired with my partner who, she and I are bonded together now, it was a fantastic experience. I’m fired up to keep doing this work.

I used to say, “I don’t know how long I’ll make it, I guess I’ll push it as long as I can.” I know now with a certainty I never had before, I get to be a therapist for as long as I choose to do this work. It’s no longer time-limited to me.


Where were you at in your burnout experience when you found Eric’s compassion fatigue training?

If I had found this when I was doing community mental health work, I would’ve stuck it out in community mental health longer. I wouldn’t have stayed there forever, but I definitely would’ve lasted longer than I did. 

I got hired by the same place where I did my internship in grad school. I worked on an inpatient unit for a year and a half – talk about being susceptible to burnout. I worked with uninsured and underinsured clients. Oftentimes it was homeless folks I was seeing. I would do an admission on the same person 4 times in a week because they kept cycling back through, and that’s hard. I got into this field because I wanted to help people because I want to see people get better and I wasn’t seeing that better. 

What happened in the community mental health center is the red tape, the bureaucracy, they were making everything about numbers and telling me I wasn’t doing enough sessions. Nobody sat down with any of my clients and asked if I was helping or if they were getting any better. It was “what’s going on with your billing?” 

I started questioning, “I don’t know what’s going on with my billing.” I equated that to my worth or lack of worth as a professional and was really irritable, not sleeping, exhausted, I would come home from work on a Friday and my husband would want to go out to dinner and by the time he asked me the question I would be face-planted in my bed in my pajamas. I didn’t have energy left to go out to dinner. My therapist was worried about me, saying “You’re going to burn out of the field before you even get licensed.” 

When I found Forward-Facing®, I was in a different place. I thought I was doing great. I was happier, I liked the private practice I was working at, it was a much better environment, very different clientele, I had freedom over my schedule. What could I possibly be unhappy about? 

Then I did some of the tools. I took the ProQol and I realized, “oh, maybe I’m not doing as well as I thought I was.” 

If you don’t take the time to do some introspection and see where you’re at, these unconscious responses are going to get in the way of your work. Not because you’re a bad person. Nobody’s saying you’re intentionally setting out to not do good work, but we have a nervous system that impacts the stuff we do on a day to day basis. 

I’m one of those folks that has a relatively low ACEs score, but even outside of that, I found through the course of Forward-Facing®, that I have a significant amount of painful past learning that was getting in the way of me doing the clinical work that I now know I’m capable of. That’s because this training has given me the freedom to actually resolve some of that stuff.  


What was most helpful for you from Forward-Facing? 

I would say one of the most impactful pieces of the professional resilience training was walking through the Accelerated Recovery Program with my cohort partner. I am always drawn to training where I’m doing the thing because that’s how I learn best, but also I don’t feel it’s fair to ask clients to walk through a journey I’ve not done myself. 

So the ability to sit down with my cohort partner and walk through the measures and do my timeline and write my great supervisor letter and have her witness my mission statement – I still remember one of the most powerful moments where you choose 3 different traumatic professional experiences. I went into it with an open mind – I was not expecting it to be as powerful as it was for me because it was 20 years later! I thought I resolved that. But sitting down with her and walking back through those things, I felt so much lighter after having walked through those things. 

I reconnected with my passion in a way that I don’t think I’ve felt since undergrad. I know exactly why I’m doing this and I really feel privileged to do the work I do.

It is an honor for me to sit with my clients in the midst of their most painful moments. The difference now is  I can do that and keep doing it tomorrow and the day after and the day after that. I can hold that space for them, be genuinely present, be genuinely empathetic and not burnout in the process – I never had that before. 

What has been most difficult to learn as you engage with Forward-Facing?

I’m a perfectionist – that’s part of my painful past learning. Child of immigrant parents. In their attempt to make a better life for me, they instilled this thought that I had to be perfect at all of the things. I had to excel at all of the things. So the biggest piece for me to be able to let go of is that perfectionism. And give myself the grace and compassion that I’m not going to be perfect at this all the time. 

Some days I self-regulate better than other days. There are moments when I self-regulate just fine. Believe it or not, even though I have “professional speaker” behind my name now, in elementary school I got nauseous before I had to give a presentation. Now because I self-regulate, that doesn’t happen anymore. 


What have you been able to leave behind now that you’re using Forward-Facing? 

I was a teacher once upon a time. I lasted in the classroom…one year. And oh man did I spiral down into depression because I spent all this time and money in school to become an educator and ended up lasting one year in the classroom. 

For years, I beat myself up and thought I was a terrible person because I failed at the thing. I put in all this time and money to get this degree and then I stayed in the classroom for a year. What’s wrong with me? 

Well, what was wrong with me is that I was in a dysregulated body and there is no way I was going to be sustainable in a classroom. 

So I had this whole narrative that I had a “failed teaching career” until I came to Forward-Facing® and processed through that as one of my professional traumas. Now I know that that is just part of my journey. Now I’m able to look back at that version of me and understand that you don’t know what you don’t know. 

I didn’t know at the time that I was in a dysregulated body. I didn’t know at the time that I was battling all this painful past learning. That there was nothing inherently wrong with me. That it just became part of my journey. 

I’m able to look at myself through this lens of self-compassion that I didn’t have before. I am now so grateful for that one year I had in the classroom because if I did not have those classes that I took and that year in the classroom and then the ten years I worked for the boys and girls club, I literally would not be where I am right now. 

I’m still a teacher, only now I teach folks about emotional regulation and help them understand themselves a little better and we do conflict resolution and things like that and then the public speaking stuff too. 


What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from this conversation? 

There’s hope. Even if you think you’re not burned out or struggling with compassion fatigue, it’s worth taking a listen. It’s worth at least getting a little bit more information. At least take the ProQol. See what your numbers look like. If you’re in the normal range, not a good sign. 

Do a little digging because you can’t know what you don’t know. 

If you work in a caregiving role, I guarantee you you are working with people who are burnt out. So if nothing else, you being in a regulated body is going to help the folks around you. 

So there is hope. Many of us get into these caregiving roles because we have some kind of history of something. Ask every therapist why they became a therapist and they’re going to say “because I have a history of trauma” or “I grew up with a parent with substance abuse,” and so we are more susceptible to developing compassion fatigue because we have a bigger bank of painful past learning that’s impacting us. 

There is hope. I promise you you can be sustainable in this field with tools that really are not that complicated. It doesn’t take some great big two hours out of your day thing. We’re talking about super quick switching your nervous system over – it doesn’t take more than 10 seconds. And you can do that as many times a day as you need to and I found that to be incredibly empowering. 

I’m still anxious. I will have anxiety for the rest of my life just like my curly hair – the difference is I now have the remote control to my anxiety and I didn’t know that existed until I found Forward-Facing®. 

There is hope and you don’t have to keep suffering. And if you’re working with suffering people you don’t have to burn out in your work.  


Do you want to serve others without burning out?

Experience the transformation Natasha did in our Forward-Facing® Professional Resilience certification program so you can experience burnout recovery and offer it to others.

Find out more below!

Emily Hedrick is Director of Operations and Innovation at Forward-Facing® Institute. One of her favorite things about Forward-Facing® is the people she has met through FFME, training programs, and other Forward-Facing interactions. She’s excited to bring this series to life and knows it won’t be much work because Forward-Facing® draws in amazing humans. 

If you’re a certified Forward-Facing® coach and want to have a conversation, she’d love to hear from you. Send her an email:


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