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Doulas: What to do when you feel in over your head.

One common challenge facing new Doulas is when they suddenly feel in over their head and aren’t sure how to navigate the complexities of a situation. While I share in depth the process in which to handle these situations with my students in my Thrive for Doulas mentorship program, I want to offer here a basic overview so that every doula can keep themselves safe

So if you are feeling suddenly in a position where you are feeling in over your head in with a client and not quite sure whether you should continue in the relationship (or professionally refer to someone more experienced/suitable) first ask yourself:

“Are you attached to the act of helping? Of being a saviour?

Are they your ideal client?

How does it feel in your body? 

Do you connect well together

Have they personally contracted you for this service and told you that they want your support? Have they specifically told you what they want in this services/what are their expectations of you?

Are you feeling comfortable about saying no or are you staying just to avoid saying no?

It is not your responsibility to save anyone. Every person needs to be radically responsible for their own experiences- including you acknowledging when resistance is present and you feel in over your head. 

When assessing if you can go ahead in a situation that makes you feel like you’re in over your head, consider my SSS formula:Self – Support – Safety


Self: are you emotionally, mentally, physically stable/able to take this on? Am I in a place to be able to give the energy required to meet these expectations?

Support: What support do you have in place to unpack the complexities, debrief and troubleshoot?
What support networks they have in place to support them so that you are not creating any dependence, reliance, attachment or at risk of going out of scope? If none- what does this mean for you and their expectations of what you can actually offer?

Safety– are you actually physically and emotionally safe in this environment/professional relationship? It is your basic right to feel safe!

No matter what your answers are, you can find a way to support them, but it might look different to what you are currently doing, and support might also look like referring to someone else.

No matter what, always ensure that you are safe. That you reflect on any resistance or tension in your body. That you are not attached or shaming yourself. That you have support!! That your clients always have support outside of you (or you make it clear where your role ends). And that your work/ability to continue in a situation even when something doesn’t feel right isn’t attached to your feelings of worth. You can always be creative about how to support people in other ways IF they want it. Just know how to support yourself first.

If you need some extra guidance on how to navigate complex situations, debrief, troubleshoot or bounce ideas about how to build and scale your doula business, I have a number of offerings that might suit you and your level of experience.

Thrive For Doulas is a 12 week mentorship and mastermind for Doulas in their first 12 months of business who want to thrive in life and business. Next round begins Aug 1st.

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