Regular Features:
Edition 9: Autumn 10

From the Editor's Desk

Where does our motivation to help others come from? I like Louis Cozolino’s take on it in his book The Making of a Therapist. Speaking to those of us who have chosen the helping professions, he argues that the decision was not random. Rather, he says, the choice of the caretaking role and how it is carried out depends on our attachment patterns, history of trauma and loss, family dynamics, and the challenges we faced while growing up. In a nutshell, the motivation to help others comes from the combined needs to regulate others and heal ourselves.

It is tempting to read about self care strategies as a list of useful ‘to dos’ to keep us sane and effective. Personally, I found it more helpful to do so keeping in mind what Cozolino talks about: our tendencies as helpers to rescue, to protect from negative feelings, perhaps to avoid conflict… In that context, space for self reflection and self care become essential elements in our work.

Happy, mindful reading.

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Deb's digest
Deb Gould
> Deb Gould is a STARTTS Clinical Psychologist and clinical supervisor.

Can we be traumatised by our clients and their stories?
Work with refugee children evokes a range of responses; from exhaustion (burnout) to complex psychological dynamics (countertransference), these reflect our engagement and the meaning that this work has for us personally. Among these responses, the most difficult construct to define is vicarious traumatisation. It is also the one frequently used by workers who are tired and anxious and who experience the same sorts of symptoms as their clients. Learn more >>

Interview with Christine Senediak
Omara Memon
> Christine is a Senior
Clinical Psychologist
and the Course
Coordinator at the
NSW Institute of Psychiatry
Self care is an interesting concept as most counsellors work very hard to care for their clients often at the expense of their own well-being. One issue that comes to mind straight away are boundary concerns. Keeping a safe and professional distance from the client’s issues can often be a struggle. Counsellors need to be aware of the limits of their practice and know when to refer on to another professional or agency. This can be either when the problem gets too big, when it is not in their area of expertise or touches on a ‘self’ or personal issue. For example, a counsellor might find themselves in a position where they are over identifying, over doing or even in some cases, over protecting their clients. Learn more >>
Strengthening Relationships and a Systemic Care Alliance in Supporting Children and Young People Post Trauma - Mia Markovic
Indira Haracic-Novic
> Indira Haracic-Novic
is a clinical psychologist
When the helper’s emotional wounds interfere in the work with trauma victims
Traumatic experiences are an unavoidable fact of life. Opening up and exploring a client’s trauma memories can evoke the therapist’s personal experiences and pain. Our own “unfinished psychological business” can represent obstacles on the road to successful counselling or assisting people to recover from their traumas. No matter how experienced and well trained counsellors or helpers are, there is a possibility that our deep-seated hurts and emotional wounds can interfere, blocking a doorway to the clients’ power of self-healing.
Learn more >>
Self-care - Belinda Cooley
Belinda Cooley
> Belinda is a senior health worker with over 15 years experience as a clinical social worker.
The task of writing on the topic of self-care can be a tricky one. We all know that self-care is important. However, taking time out from our busy and stretched days to read about why it is important highlights the challenges of prioritising it as an issue. With increased workloads, staff shortages and the difficulty of maintaining a work-life balance, it is important to value our own wellbeing and health. So how about we revisit the importance of self-care by setting aside five minutes to read this article which will provide a timely reminder of why it is important for you and your clients? Learn more >>

“Our students’ and clients’ pain will evoke deep grief and distress in us; we need to recognise what a commitment we make when we agree to go on a journey of healing with our client or student. We need to take seriously the fact that we have made a commitment. In fact, this commitment requires that we protect and take care of ourselves in order to support our students or clients in developing self-love and compassion. To do so, we must stay aware of our feelings, needs and limits.” - Dr Karen Saakvitne, the Clinical Director of the Traumatic Stress Institute in Connecticut. Learn more >>

Max Schneider
> Max is a Child & Adolescent Counsellor at STARTTS and the service's School Liaison Officer.

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Training Calendar
Two of our popular one-day courses are coming up: Core Concepts in Working with Survivors of Torture and Trauma on May 25th and Jungle Tracks: A Therapeutic Storytelling Program for Children and Adolescents in April 22nd. To register, visit the STARTTS website.

April School Holidays Camp for boys and girls aged 10 – 13. If you are interested in referring children, or for more information, please contact Mohammed Baarud on (02) 9794 1908 or via email: Mohamed Baaruud. Hurry, referrals need to be sent ASAP!

Hint of the month

To help you manage compassion fatigue:

• take responsibility for your self-care and balance work demands and personal life

• challenge yourself to grow professionally by working on a variety of cases and presentations (for example, not just with depressed clients)

• talk to a colleague, peer or manager - and when necessary, access Employee Assistance counselling services.

Disclaimer The information contained in Hints for Healing is provided as an information source only. The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the position or views of STARTTS.  The material is provided on the basis that readers are responsible for making their own assessments of the issues discussed, and always work under clinical supervision.

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