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.
How do you belong to yourself? How do you belong in nature? How do you belong in community? As one? As many? Alone? United? Part of the collective? Enjoy this beautiful reflection from poet, teacher and storyteller, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.
Healthcare workers are passionate, caring folk. With a diminished workforce worldwide, overloaded systems and reduced resources, it is no wonder we are all feeling stretched and compromised in the face of the ensuing moral distress. It is important to address the wider systemic issues but we also need to do small things to care for ourselves and each other day to day. One solution? A feel-good music playlist - have a listen and share with anyone who may need a boost!
For too long there has been a focus on self care when we work in systems with groups of people, in community. We know that community, authentic connection and support are essential for our survival: the pandemic taught us just how vital we are for each other, and polyvagal theory confirms that the need to come together for safety and support is built into our neurobiology. So what is collective care? What does it mean? Why is it so important? Take a look below to find out more.
The late Robert Hall was an American psychiatrist and lay Buddhist priest who worked to integrate Gestalt theory with practices of embodiment and meditation. Hall was also an author and poet. Take your time to sit with these words to consider how they land with you. What emerges in your thoughts and body? What is your felt sense? What images are evoked?
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.
We have all heard of the 'fight / flight / freeze' responses, but there are many other complex systems at play when we become stressed. In this blog, we will take a look at the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal systems, otherwise known as the HPA axis, to understand how and why dysregulation of this axis can compromise our immune system, and lead to inflammation and a downward spiral in our mental, hormonal and physical health.
Being a cloud-lover has brought me great joy, moments of contemplation, imagination, connection, wonder and playfulness. And it turns out that having an ability to connect with ourselves and the world around us in these ways is very important for our capacity to shape our nervous system towards health and wellbeing. Most of us are familiar with 'triggers' but do you know about building awareness of and connecting to a sense of the goodness within and around you through 'glimmers'? Join me in this exploration of glimmers through clouds.
Art and music have whispered, wailed and shaken into us the secrets of what it is to be human ever since we have had the ability to create as a species. In today’s busy world, too many of us are turning away from connecting with ourselves at alarming rates. In the process we are losing connection with our essence: our tender core that is numbed from hurt, exhaustion and pain. How can artistry sing us back into connection with our true selves? What can music and art show us about sitting with numinosity to find presence and wellbeing?
'R U OK Day' is a suicide prevention initiative that aims to reduce risk and harm by through staying connected and having difficult conversations when someone is struggling. Having these conversations is important, but so difficult for us; particularly when many of us do not know how to support ourselves, let alone sit in discomfort with others. This article looks at how we can take care of ourselves, each other and stay connected beyond 8 September - in compassion and in community.
Netflix's award winning TV show 'Stranger Things' highlights the power of music to calm, connect loved ones, reconnect with ourselves, forge new identities, distract monsters, and even save lives. But how much of this is true? What powers does music really have? What does science tell us about the power of music? And how does music help the characters in 'Stranger Things'? Buckle in to hear what we know about the power of music from an Australian Registered Music Therapist's perspective.
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.
This time of the year can be difficult at the best of times: the pressure to get things finished, have fun, be social and make merry; family gatherings; multiple social events; late nights and rich food. Additionally, this year’s festive season follows two years of lockdowns, restrictions, negotiating who has/hasn't been vaccinated, ongoing uncertainty, and for many, financial hardship. See below for how the ‘8 C’s’ of Internal Family Systems therapy can guide what you might need to create space and support for yourself.
Polyvagal theory describes how our nervous system works hard to help us to connect with others, to keep us safe, and to protect us against threat. Many are familiar with terms such as fight, flight and freeze. However this is only part of the picture. This article unpacks three organising principles of polyvagal theory that help to make it accessible, understandable and easy to translate into daily life.
The rich array of autumnal colours remind us of the cycles of life, the delight of colour, and the shift from the expansiveness of summer, to our inner world as we head closer into winter. With so much of our focus caught up in busy-ness and the 'doing' of life, this post invites reflection on presence, connection and transformation through creating the safety and space for our inner worlds, through music, art, embodiment and relaxed states.
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.
Within the helping professions we often focus on the more challenging end of the joy - pain spectrum in this work: exhaustion, compassion fatigue, secondary stress and vicarious trauma. This blog series seeks to rectify that, with Part 1 focusing on vicarious resilience, Part 2 unpacking compassion satisfaction, Part 3 looks at suggested changes in terminology and Part 4 addressing the importance of, and risks associated with, connecting with others when in a helping role. Cultivating awareness of both ends of the joy - pain spectrum in the helping professions is essential in supporting worker wellbeing.
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.
Creating playlists for fun, to exercise and support us through hard times has always been a great thing to do. You might not think about it much, but your music playlist impacts your mood, your thoughts and your body. And if you're having a hard time, it's worth noticing if the music you listen to is helping.... or not.
Therapy groups are a fantastic way to find support and connect with others facing similar experiences. They bring people together, help you to see that you are not alone and can be a way to learn about yourself in relation to others. In joining with others in a group, you can develop skills in communication, see things from different perspectives, share learnings and develop some great networks of support.
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.
It’s a big claim, but think about all the times of need you have turned to music ... in times of heartbreak, teenage angst, weddings, funerals, setting the scene for a party (at the beginning and at the end of the night), for graduations, for religious services, and on and on.