Having an Open Heart without Having a Heart Attack

by Stars Training Academy   0 Comments

TrainingsExperts describe vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue as the “cost of caring.” It is said, that the most empathetic providers are likely to be the most vulnerable. It’s a challenging conundrum; how do we engage while remaining safely disengaged? Where do our difficult stories go at the end of the day? How do we remain in compassionate contact without developing callouses? Our graduate schools understandably focus on effective caring for others, but very little on caring for ourselves.

Let’s face it – many mental health practitioners don’t practice what they preach and teach. It would be shocking if a professional athlete stated that s/he doesn’t focus much on their physical fitness, yet many mental health professionals don’t work at maintaining their “emotional” fitness. (Working with dysregulated people can be very dysregulating!) Inspiring hope is the bedrock of all that we do – who inspires us? One study indicates that 59% of mental health workers would be willing to get help if needed. That means 41% of us are not able or willing to take the same scary step we expect in our clients – ASKING FOR HELP!

John Briere, the fascinating and well-known author and lecturer on trauma, is fond of saying, “We’re all Bozos on the same bus.” None of us are immune. No one escapes unscathed from life’s serious bumps and bruises. Everyone needs to learn how to best take care of themselves. Francoise Mathieu, a talented mental health counselor and Compassion Fatigue specialist (and genuinely funny person), offers the following Top 12 Self-Care Tips for Helpers:

  1. Take Stock – what’s on your plate?
  2. Start a Self-Care Idea Collection
  3. Find time for yourself every day
  4. Delegate – learn to ask for help
  5. Have a transition from work to home
  6. Learn to say no (or yes) more often
  7. Assess your trauma inputs
  8. Learn more about Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma
  9. Consider joining a peer support group
  10. Attend workshops/training regularly
  11. Exercise
  12. Consider part-time work

A wealth of helpful information and resources about coping with Compassion Fatigue can be found at Ms. Mathieu’ web-site Compassion Fatigue

Let’s all become avid collectors of self-care ideas.

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