Here we are again. The new year has begun, and the threat of COVID-19 still hangs over us every day. At Camino, we do our best to adhere to mask-wearing and social distancing. But, despite following safety protocols, the risk of the virus still looms and the veil is wearing thin.
Though our caregivers at Camino do not work directly with COVID-positive patients, like everyone, we do face constant risk of exposure as we go about our daily lives outside of work.
Administering self-care in an era of unprecedented trauma
Presently, the media is full of stories about primary caregivers suffering from episodic depression and even suicidal thoughts due to the pandemic’s intensity. Sure, vaccines have made their way to some, but the majority of citizens remain unvaccinated.
Unfortunately, these are just a few examples of the world at large right now. For us, it’s important to administer care to those currently caring for others. Frontline workers are facing unprecedented trauma, and it’s on us to supervise those workers to ensure they can continue their duty.
One of the most valuable tools in this regard is supervision.
What does ‘supervision’ look like?
Supervision is a safe therapeutic environment where mental health professionals look at the trials and tribulations of their own life both inside and outside of the therapy room in order to maintain their own well being and provide a superior service to their clients.
It is about getting the help we need to continue our service to the vulnerable others in the safest way possible. Supervision is us addressing tiredness, exhaustion, transference, countertransference, and all our own issues that stop us being effective. Only then can we keep calm, remain present and serve vulnerable people who need help most.
Utilising supervision is difficult at the best of times. Many of us can address our own personal issues in front of peers. Co-workers, for example, don’t judge each other because problems are usually relatable. But when there’s a pandemic at large, peer supervision becomes a complex problem. And this invisible threat is extremely present. Whether at work or at home, primary caregivers oftentimes fail to take care of themselves, and they neglect the stress they feel every day.
But here’s the thing about this mindset: This pandemic will win if we’re unable to care for ourselves first. Because without tending to our own mental wellness, we can’t provide help to anyone else.
As the pandemic continues, weeks are turning into months and bottled up stress is taking its toll. And when it finally comes time to turn toward ourselves to face our issues, it’s usually too late. Paired with the still-present stigma that mental health carries today, seeking the right help to overcome the trauma faced in the last year is near impossible for many.
Five Important reasons for doing supervision?
- Practicing what we preach. Self Care is imperative as we must lead by example in our behaviour and in our actions.
- Processing unresolved personal or client emotions routinely prevents from becoming overwhelmed and staying present for clients.
- Explore areas of “stuck-ness” and counter-transference to find areas of growth and improvement.
- Getting the reflection of someone who has seen us at our best – and therefore able to point out when we’re not doing as well as we may think.
- Duty of care. We have an ethic that we do no harm to our clients. If we’re not well – we’re likely bring our “stuff” into the room which can be counter-therapeutic, or worse, damaging to the client.
Putting number one before anyone else
This stigma must stop. As someone who has seen the negative consequences of neglect in so many patients who come through our doors, I implore you to take courage and find an effective way to care for your mental wellness first. If we don’t care for ourselves, we have little to offer others who look to us for guidance.