As helping professionals, the question is not if, but 'when will we experience the vicarious impacts of this work?' In recent years, we have become more aware of terms such as vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and moral injury in helping others. There are, however, also joyful, hopeful and inspiring aspects of this work. Here at Tempo, we make sense of both sides through the 'Joy - Pain Spectrum'. Take a look at the graphic overview to understand more.
In this National Reconciliation Week, Australians are being urged to 'use their power, their words and their actions' to create a better country; 'to be a voice for generations' (Reconciliation Australia). Here, I am exploring my own sense of shame, helplessness, hopelessness and complacency through a lens of the near and far enemies of fierce compassion. For me, it's a vulnerable and necessary place to start again; to re-find my voice and put my words and values into action.
In preparing for the two hour masterclass that I am offering in June, I have been enjoying a process of research and reading. In this blog, I'm happy to share the eight key texts that will inform this dive into self compassion, embodied empathy and boundaries for health workers. If these pique your interest, take a look in your local library or bookstore. Or, better yet, join us at the masterclass on Thursday June 15 for an immersive, nourishing and stimulating deep dive into these topics.
What causes burnout? Is it the person? The culture? The environment? Or a combination of all three? Informed by latest research, dive in to unpack the causes of burnout through a lens of workplace culture, community supports, values and individual, predisposing factors. Learn how understanding these contributing factors may help you to assess your own situation, and see what you might be able to change ... or not. Which aspects of work are supportive for you right now, and which may be leading you to burn out?
So many of us in helping roles struggle to put ourselves first. For so long, our roles at home, at work and in the community have urged us ever forward in support of others. We have whispered to ourselves, 'but this person is so much more in need...', 'I have so much...', or just pushed on through without realising what we lose. This poem articulates so well the struggle between the different parts of us, and highlights the disconnect that so often occurs. I invite you to take a moment of gentleness with yourself in reading this poem by John Roedel.
You may have an idea of how creative arts, music and the embodied approaches work in counselling or therapy, but in supervision?! What does this mean? And how might this sort of approach support you in your practice? In this piece, we look at a couple of short videos from Cathy Malchiodi and Joan Wilmot to understand these thoughts from the point of view of the 'Seven-Eyed Model of Supervision' and creative arts therapy approaches.
There is a lot of information and talk about burnout these days - and rightly so. Our world is fast-paced to the point of enormous suffering - mentally, physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. But what is burnout? And how can you tell if you are affected by it? In this blog we outline the key symptoms of burnout as described by 'The Sydney Studies' - research undertaken by the team at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
This five-part blog series of the 'Joy-Pain Spectrum' has explored the opportunities for growth, hope and positive change that help to protect us and mitigate the risks associated with the challenges of helping others at the other end: burnout, vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue (empathic strain) moral injury and secondary traumatic stress. So how do we protect ourselves? How do we maintain our healthy selves in relation to helping work? The answer lies in the need for cultural, political and organisational shifts, as well as the need for BOTH individual and collective supports.
For workers in a helping role, professional supervision is an essential component of the work: it supports positive outcomes for clients, maintenance of ethical standards, the development of skills and, importantly, the wellbeing of workers. Whilst most workplaces strive to offer regular supervision, the reality is often far from ideal. This blog explores how supervision groups outside of your workplace can offer a much needed space for reflection, connection and mutual support for teachers and healthcare workers.
We can hardly explore the joy-pain spectrum in helping roles without looking at the pointy end. While previous blogs in this 5-part series explored the positive, protective factors, this post examines the risks in empathic connection when working with those who are suffering. Here, we will consider the symptoms, contributing factors and the differences between empathic strain (compassion fatigue), burnout, secondary traumatic stress and vicarious trauma.
The first four blogs in this five-part series have illuminated the significant challenges faced by workers in helping roles in Australia, and the need for change if we are going to sustain a stable and healthy workforce in healthcare and education. The statistics are dire, but there is a way forward. This blog explores how we can nurture hope in healthcare and education through presence and connection.
From the first three parts of 'The Helping Professionals Interview Series' we've heard that teachers and health professionals struggle to reach out for support and care for themselves. Why is this? In this penultimate blog in the series, we hear through the voices of participants that the answer is tied up in societal messages that begin in childhood, and continue on through professional training and within workplace cultures.
In this third piece of the five-part 'Helping Professionals Interview Series' , we explore the misnomer of ‘self care’ and its suggestion that individuals only hold responsibility for our wellbeing. In fact, the challenges are caused by modern Western society, its systems with ever-shifting policies and protocols, large workloads and insufficient support within our working environments. If you're exhausted and overwhelmed, it's not you: it's a set up.
Through November – December in late 2021, I met with seventeen helping professionals from the following areas: nursing, teaching, music therapy, pharmacy, counselling, child and family therapy, social work and service management to discuss how they seek help or look after themselves when they are struggling. This infographic summarises key findings.
Towards the end of last year, I met with a number of health and education professionals in an informal process to discuss how they manage their own wellbeing. We discussed what gets in the way of them maintaining their own self-care, and finding external help. Part one of this five-part blog series shares the key blockages to seeking support as experienced by these helping professionals.
The concept of compassion fatigue has been around for twenty five years. Often closely linked (and at times incorrectly used interchangeably with) burnout, compassion fatigue has been a focus for researchers interested in mitigating the risks workers face with prolonged exposure to the suffering of others. Leading experts are calling for a change in terminology, suggesting that ‘empathic strain’ is a more accurate term due to the differing neural networks involved in empathy and compassion. See below for a brief overview of the discussion.
Post-traumatic growth is a familiar concept to many. But what about other positive impacts that workers can experience? Vicarious resilience and compassion satisfaction help us to understand the ways that workers in helping or caring roles can be positively impacted, or even transformed, by witnessing the strength and resilience of others. Holding an awareness of both ends of the spectrum - the joy and the pain in the work - may hold the key for a healthy, successful and durable career.
When so many of our challenges are a result of pressures from work and (rather topically) society in general – reference to ‘self care’ can seem to be a dismissal at best. What of the larger systems and social mechanisms at play? How can we look after ourselves and each other? Social buffering and ideas about connection and empathy give us some clues.