I recently attended a 5 day workshop with Alberta Health Services called Clinical Foundations. One of the topics that the workshop covered was “Care for the Clinician”. This one really struck me in the heart strings. You know when you get goosebumps when you hear something profound, or something just moves you…
During this workshop, the presenter, explained that often the caregivers or clinicians desperately need mental health support but often don’t seek it. And she even said quite frankly to all 9 of us in attendance, “You all should be getting regular psychotherapy.”
I thought to myself, ‘Isn’t it ironic, that I encourage my patients to seek mental health support, to attend psychotherapy, but I don’t? I even encourage my friends and family, yet I haven’t attended to my own mental health needs.”
I mean, I have a mindfulness app on my phone that I delve into when I can’t sleep, and occasionally I’ll listen to a 5 min meditation when my thoughts are anywhere and everywhere. I’ve attended psychotherapy once in my life, and only one visit. I’ve practiced spirituality for years, but I’ve never regularily attended therapy. But, why? To be honest, (and I said this at the workshop) I didn’t think my problems amounted the need for therapy. The presenter looked at me and said, “How many of your patients, your friends, and family members have said that?”
We, often minimize our problems. Especially as people exposed to high trauma, with the sometimes awful experiences of our patients. We often compare ourselves to these extremes, and conclude that if anyone needs therapy, its that person going through that traumatic experience. Yet we standby, assist, and support them; and we see their trauma through their eyes.
I cannot count on my hand the amount of times I’ve gone home from a shift, entranced by the things I’ve experienced in the last 8 hours. Sometimes I’ll talk it out with a family member, sometimes I’ll have a drink or go out so that I can distract and relax. More often, unhealthy coping mechanisms.
I took a survey recently that was geared to health care workers, the questions asked about potential traumas we experience at work, at home, and things we’ve experienced in our childhood. Before the test started, I was thinking, “Ah, this doesn’t really apply to me, I haven’t been exposed to a lot of trauma.”. But, as I continued the test, the truth was revealed to me, I have been exposed to a lot of trauma. More often, I may not have seen it with my own eyes; but I’ve experienced the raw reality through the words, tears, and wounds of my patients. Almost every day that I work.
Often, we can’t talk about events at work due to laws abiding with patient confidentiality. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about how it made us feel; how its changed our outlook on life, or things that matter to us.
Another barrier to seeking psychotherapy as health care workers is cost, and free time. However, there are some free therapies out there, as well as things you can do in your own time. If you work for Alberta Health Services and some other organizations, there are some free resources available to you at WorkHealthLife.com; this includes psychotherapy for free through telephone, which means you can do it while at home, or anywhere that works for you! The Canadian Mental Health Association has a lot of resources, I encourage you, the reader, to check them out.
I want to attend psychotherapy sessions, I haven’t booked anything yet. But I have been lurking around on these two websites that I’ve mentioned. I’d like to attend a face-to-face therapy session, and there is a place I have in mind. I’m hoping to book an appointment in July after my vacation! (Cause vacation can be a form of therapy right?!).
If you’re reading this, and have any suggestions/tips, or something you’d like to share regarding Mental Health, please do so by commenting below, or sending me a message!