Developing an "Essential-Self" Care Practice

Presented and developed by Brenda Butterfield, EdD, MSW, LMHC

“Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential.” We tell our clients this and teach them how to set boundaries to take better care of themselves. But how well are we caring for ourselves? Are we practicing what we preach? Do we walk the talk? While we know prioritizing our own health and well-being is important somehow it’s the first thing we sacrifice to “help others”.

"Whoever would be a teacher of men let him begin by teaching himself before teaching others; and let him teach by example before teaching by word. For he who teaches himself and rectifies his own ways is more deserving of respect and reverence than he who would teach others and rectify their ways."      -Kahlil Gibran

The Essential-Self Care Practice is an original, thought-provoking intervention emerging from phenomenological research and practice in a clinical setting. Like many other interventions, it is grounded in theory and research based. However, unlike other interventions the Essential-Self Care Practice targets therapists, not clients. It is specifically designed to enhance clinician’s overall health and well-being. In Treating Compassion Fatigue Figley (2002) writes,

“Those who work with the suffering suffer themselves because of the work.”

Serving as a mental health therapist feels more challenging than ever before. Without ongoing self-care
mental health therapists are at elevated risk for burnout. The Essential-Self Care Practice calls us to live a more mindful, contemplative life, practicing kindness toward self then others. At the core of this work is learning to BE ones True, Essential-Self. It’s the prerequisite before doing anything with or for clients. Only then can we Genuinely serve as a guide by the side for those seeking increased peace of mind and improved overall well-being. Seeing clinical work from this very different vantage point reveals it’s not WHAT we DO but rather WHO we ARE in the presence of clients that matters most to the therapeutic alliance.

The Practice is based on the premise that the therapeutic alliance is the vehicle for change in psychotherapy, a premise anchored in over 70 years of research. As clinicians we honor the therapeutic alliance and also recognize client outcomes are beyond our control. But current research suggests what we bring into the therapy room is more important than previously realized. Latest findings suggest the clinician’s psychological health and well-being significantly influences the therapeutic alliance, which correlates with treatment outcomes for clients. Although clients are not the primary target population for this intervention they benefit from it. Caring for ourselves changes us from the inside out. We become more present, accepting and empathic – qualities identified by Rogers as essential ingredients to develop a therapeutic alliance with clients

Like other professional caregivers mental health therapists are trained to give care to others, not oneself. Perceiving self-care as an amenity and not a necessity is common. During the workshop we unpack the resistance to self-care and explore ways to overcome it. Privately assessing one’s practice of self-care reveals areas of strengths and weakness. Experiencing mindful meditation, simple yoga stretches, self-reflective writing and prayer – all practices supported by research as effective – provides ways to know and care for one’s True, Essential-Self. Using these tools and others in a personal self-care practice results in improved peace of mind and overall well-being for clinicians who walk the talk of caring for ones’ own body, mind and Soul while guiding others.

Learn about the Essential-Self Care Practice didactically and well as through, experiential learning, self-reflection and group discussion with colleagues. Experience a day of learning ways to BE kind and loving to your body, mind and Soul. Experience a day of the Essential-Self Care Practice.

Quotes from clinicians

“[This workshop was so] inspiring and centering. It was a wonderful place for me to be today!”

“The sharing by others was very enriching. Having the opportunity to ‘think’ and share was educational.”

“The content was culturally inclusive. Thank you!”

“This was a liberating experience!” “I love her holistic approach and her spontaneity and receptivity to the divinity that lives within each moment.”

Learning Objectives 

  • Develop knowledge of the Essential-Self Care Practice including key intervention concepts and practices: Essential-Self, self-care, discipline, self-reflective journaling, meditation, mindfulness, mindful practices, affirmative and contemplative Spirit talk/prayer, humanistic spirituality, phenomenological interventions, cross-cultural spirituality, etc.
  • Understand the process and merits of developing a personal Essential-Self Care Practice.
  •  Develop knowledge and understanding of research-based health benefits of meditation, prayer and yoga.
  •  Explore tools to use for developing a personal self-care practice to manifest ones Essential-Self 
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of process, tools and tools needed to guide clients through the phenomenological experience of BE-coming ones Essential-Self.
  •  Learn the process for integrating the Essential-Self Care Practice into assessment, treatment planning and service delivery.

Continuing Education (CE) Information

6 CEs

Cascadia Training is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements.  The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.

Cascadia is also approved by the Washington State Office of Public Instruction as a "Washington State approved clock hour offering workshop."

Brenda S. Butterfield, EdD, MSW, LMHC

Dr. Brenda S. Butterfield is founder of Our New Experience (ONE), LLC in Redmond, WA. She has been a mental health professional for over 30 years serving children, youth, families and communities in the US and abroad. In her clinical work, Dr. Butterfield uses an integrative, whole person perspective to support development of each human’s full potential. Knowing there are many paths to peace of mind, she uses a variety of therapeutic approaches anchored in mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy and other phenomenological self-care practices all supported by scientific data as effective.

In addition to individual and group therapy, Dr. Butterfield teaches Mindful meditation classes, facilitates retreats and presents a variety of seminars and professional development trainings for mental health practitioners and other caregivers locally and nationally.    


Prior to founding Our New Experience Dr. Butterfield was an award-winning faculty member of the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth receiving multiple awards from students, colleagues, and community organizations for teaching excellence and leadership.  She has presented at national and international conferences and was invited to serve as a Guest Lecturer teaching psychology courses at the University of Birmingham in England in 2008. 

Dr. Butterfield is an innovative teacher in part due her unique educational background with degrees and in education, psychology and social work.  The nexus of her training combined with her wide array of clinical experience in child welfare, mental health, substance abuse, and higher education in the US, England, Africa and the Middle East is likely why clients and colleagues describe her work as “inspiring, authentic and transformative.”  

Dr. Butterfield earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1989 a Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington in 1998 and a Doctorate Degree in Education from the University of Minnesota in 2014, specializing in the Psychology of Teaching and Learning.

Her professional work has always been challenging and rewarding but her greatest learning and satisfaction continues to come from being an adoptive and biological mom of two children. Lived experience has taught Dr. Butterfield about the necessity of developing an Essential-Self Care Practice by recognizing, surviving and eventually befriending mental illness in her own family. Her daily mindful practice continues to teach her how to recognize life’s challenges as invitations to develop her own full human potential.

More information about Dr. Butterfield is available at and on the Psychology Today website

Upcoming Dates and Registration

Date: Friday, December 28th, 2018
Time: 9:00am - 4:30pm

Cost: $159.00 USD

Campus: Wong Fleming Conference Room, Redmond, WA
Map:       Directions to our campus location.
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