Volume 5 • Issue 11 • November 2020
Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.
Direct Service Staff: This is for you!
This issue is devoted to Uplift’s direct service staff, or DSS: clinicians, specialists, facilitators, youth and family partners, doctors, nurses, professional parents – everyone who works, in-person or via telehealth, with the people we serve.
Uplift expects a lot from you, but you tend to have even higher standards for yourselves. You bring your attention and skills, authenticity, empathy, and hope to every customer encounter. You are holders of hope for families.
The work is emotionally demanding: making hope real to someone else is possible only if you embrace that hope yourself. That puts you at risk for anxiety, sadness, self-doubt, and more. These feelings are not necessarily bad, but they will take their toll if left unaddressed.
So, you’re doing your part to make the world a better place, when along comes 2020, a cornucopia of inconvenience, disaster, and every-thing in between. At a time when self-care is more important than ever, a few of us who have been in the trenches offer these suggestions.
Monitoring your own emotions can help guide treatment decisions, but it is also critical to preventing your own psychological and physical exhaustion (burnout), depression and secondary trauma. And if you can’t prevent them, at least you can address them.
Notice Your Successes
A great way to counteract upsetting feelings is to intentionally notice your successes. At the end of each day, ask yourself, “What good happened in someone’s life because of me?” Did someone feel more confident, take a step toward their goals, or get through the day better because of you?
Know your emotional vulnerabilities and the self-talk that works for you. Feeling discouraged? What would you say to a discouraged colleague? Maybe “You’re doing your best in a tough situation with limited resources.” Or “You can’t fix everything, at least not in one day!” Or “Hey, you’re not a superhero.”
Get out of your head! Take breaks between sessions. Use mindfulness techniques. Space out emotionally heavy appointments. Treat yourself. You have absolutely earned it!
Ask for Help
Did we mention that you cannot fix everything? We count on friends and family for support, but colleagues often understand work issues better. Keep your supervisor up to date on how you’re doing. Let them and your coworkers know when you need to ventilate, debrief, problem-solve, etc. Take advantage of EAP, talk with your PCP, or make an appointment with a therapist.
Look Out for One Another
Take the initiative to engage your colleagues. Lean in. Ask how they are doing, especially anyone who seems to be having trouble. Surprise them with your acknowledgement, appreciation, admiration, and gratitude.
Uplift makes the world a better place, mainly through you, the direct service staff. Helping you do your job is why the rest of us do our jobs. We are privileged to have that role and grateful for all you do.
Editors: Mark Edelstein & Elika Beckwith