The Ethical Responsibility of Self-Care


When we take care of ourselves, we can take better care of our patients.

“We tend to think of self-care as a luxury, but it really isn’t—because taking care of ourselves is taking care of the instrument that we use in our work, and that is incredibly important.”

In this Mental Health Minute, M. Katherine Shear, MD, of Columbia University discusses the importance of self-care and how self-care is actually an ethical responsibility for clinicians. She also shares some her favorite forms of self-care, from walking and biking to maintaining a positive mood to reading murder mysteries.

Dr Shear is Marion E. Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and director of the Center for Prolonged Grief at the Columbia University School of Social Work. Her work includes more than 330 peer-reviewed publications and the development of several widely used assessment instruments and instructional materials for prolonged grief disorder therapy. Dr Shear has served on review committees of the National Institute of Mental Health and on the advisory council for its National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She has also served as an advisor to the DSM-5 workgroup on complicated grief and adult separation anxiety, a member of the World Health Organization’s ICD11 Working Group on Mood and Anxiety Disorders, a member of the scientific advisory board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and an elected member of the board of the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

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