by Galen Ohipps
Why is it that in the therapy professions we either give advice about self care or do not talk about it at all? It is like self care is for others but not us! Not dealing openly with this enables these issues to subtly and sometimes not so subtly keep us from being fully present for our clients.
We as helpers get into this profession for specific reasons and not necessarily for altruism. Each of us from our own path has been compelled to help others. Like mine, my role in the family was peace-maker in an angry, prone to violence, alcohol bathed daily experience. My experience is not unique. You may have other similar or different life circumstances as well. Staying balanced and unhooked from my life trauma is critical if I am to be useful for those who need my assistance.
Yet, in the workplace and in supervision the impact of our life experience on our motivation for the work is not discussed. It clearly is not part of our culture. In fact, disclosure is often seen as weakness in a field where our personal struggles are judged as having no place.
What can be done to foster a culture of openness to assist clinicians to be more present for those we treat?