Helper Self-Care is Important
In the most current issue of The National Psychologist (July-August, 2019) an article linked helper effectiveness, risk management, and clinical outcomes to helper self-care. To make a long story shorter, I will simply paraphrase and re-word the suggestions. These recommendations support YOUR emotional survival and successful risk management as a helper as well as your clients’ progress.
Here are the specific self-care ideas. Since it is my post, I will add some of my own ideas.
Strategies for Helper/Therapist Self-Care
Focus on your own self-value and growth (personal and professional):
- Involve yourself in your own personal counseling/therapy if needed.
- Practice awareness and monitoring skills (mindfulness) regarding your needs.
- The regular practice of mindfulness and self-compassion skills is recommended.
- Spend some time learning and doing what improves resilience – block out time in your schedule.
- Do your best to maintain healthy personal boundaries at work and in life.
- Recognize and act upon limitations and manage your time well.
- Cultivate and practice activities that enhance belonging and spirituality.
- Monitor the quality of your inner speech and thoughts – improve them as needed.
- Do the same for your inner emotional experiences.
- Practice interoception by intentionally noting your inner body feelings – improve them.
Focus more closely on what you find rewarding, reinforcing AND take care of yourself:
- Experience the rewards of your work, and have gratitude for them
- Understand the stressors, risks, and burnout issues in your job role without exaggeration.
- Get help – obtain supervision, consultation, confer with peers.
- Do your best not to complain often, since this will make stress reactivity worse.
- Figure out ways to get what you need – rest, nutrition, fun, hydration, exercise, connection.
- Smile more! Yes, have the intention and behavioral response to improve facial emotions.
- Practice a regular exercise regimen.
Nurture your relational world and its objects:
- Be active in peer support groups, supervision and training activities.
- Network with others via continuing education workshops and meaningful conversations.
- Schedule regular meetings with mentors, peers, supervisors.
- Make the best of positive emotions in all significant relationships.
- If you have pets, spend some quality time with your pets. Play!
- Make sure you have a positive social life outside of work.
- Discover and re-visit what you find helpfully humorous in life.
Pursue creativity and personal growth in your inner and outer environments:
- Do what you can to make your office or work areas rewarding and reinforcing to you.
- Consider all of your senses in the above endeavor.
- If you can limit the number of high risk-high demand clients you work with.
- Obtain administrative supports that may reduce your stress level and intensity.
- Take regular self-care breaks at work, alone and in small groups.
- Do not isolate! When we feel wounded and worn out, we tend to isolate ourselves.
- If possible limit your exposure to traumatic experiences and material.
- Practice periods of silence and solitude in nature (“forest bathing” practices).
- Schedule and take time off and go on vacations – even if just staying at home.
- Continue to pursue your values-driven behaviors.
- Continue to learn new things that may improve your work role and outcomes.
- If spiritual do more practice.
- When engaged in pleasurable activities, use all your senses to experience them.
For more information refer to Bryant, L. M. (July/August, 2019). Self-care is essential to risk management. The National Psychologist.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness