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(The Care Guy)
20 commandments 8 & 9: Engagement
Posted on 7:29am Monday 18th Jun 2012
20 commandments 8: Thou shalt not hide behind a newspaper on the ward or make any other unapproachable impression otherwise
20 commandments 9: Thou shalt not hide and chat in the nurses’ offices but be with your clients as much as possible to create a safe and friendly environment
Imagine yourself at the end of a really difficult day, or even a really difficult week. Imagine you’ve lost your job, your significant other has just left and there’s a brown windowed envelope just arrived on the doormat that you know contains a bill you’ve no way to pay.
You’re confused and emotional. You’re feeling overwhelmed and you really need some way to anchor yourself, to find some sort of emotional stability in the midst of all that turmoil. What would you need to help you come to terms with all that?
Some people, of course, prefer solitude. Some use alcohol and other substances whilst others seek out others to talk. Whether you’re a talker or an insular ‘hermit type’ the one thing you most definitely won’t need is rejection.
We draw strength from others and from their willingness to be with us through our difficulties. How much more might we need that support if our troubles are so overwhelming that they lead us into mental health services?
Mental health workers have a duty to help their clients to work through their issues and to maintain (so far as is possible) their self-esteem whilst they do so. We achieve this by being there – what is known in the trade as ‘the therapeutic use of self’. An unwelcoming and overly distant demeanour from workers is one of the most untherapeutic uses of self this side of actual abuse.
Having said all that it is undeniably true that working in some mental health situations is emotionally draining on the staff too. I remember my years working on psychiatric acute wards and the need to ‘escape’ from time to time is undeniable. We are only human and we all need a break on occasion. But we must also remember what we’re there for.
It’s OK to retreat sometimes in order to maintain our own mental health. Emotional martyrdom helps nobody and your service-users and clients will not be served by your own emotional ‘breakdown’.
It’s OK to take a little time when we need it.
But let’s not forget what we’re there for.
Based on the work of ‘Margreeth H.’