Bringing Your Self to your Sessions
It’s difficult to write about mental health today without writing about Simone Biles. This incredible woman, who carries the GOAT title for her athleticism, and who presents herself as fearless and capable of anything shocked the world today when she pulled herself out of the Olympics. After the media suspected physical injury, she clarified that that was not the case. Biles reported thankfully being physically healthy, and had decided to put her mental health first, as she was struggling to cope with the stress of the competition. She pushed aside the expectations and pressures put on her by the world and put herself first.
What an incredible role model for the people we work with clinically. One of the many irrational beliefs we have to overcome with our patients is the idea that we must do whatever it takes to avoid anything we perceive as letting others down. The belief that the options are carry the weight of the world or be an absolute failure. We teach our patients about boundaries and stress management and mindfulness. We teach “I statements” and we perform role playing exercises and encourage activities to build the confidence to stand up to unrealistic expectations. Watching Biles choose herself over expectations built up over the past five years was incredibly inspirational.
The other side of this is that Biles knew she wasn’t bringing her best self to her team. How often do we do that? We feel the pressure to push through our most difficult days because we don’t want to let our patients down. We know we aren’t at our best but know our patients need us. In school we learn about coming to session as a blank slate. We are told to check ourselves at the door. Sure, to an extent this is true. Our sessions aren’t about us, meaning any biases, opinions, and personal feelings must be left behind. But when it comes to personal crises or exhaustion, is it realistic to truly check all that at the door? How can we expect to be impactful when we aren’t practicing what we’re promoting? Finding the balance between putting ourselves aside and realizing the need to put ourselves first is essential to be the best mental health professionals we can be. Just as Simone Biles said, we’re human too. We deserve the same compassion to ourselves that we give others, and that we expect our patients to give themselves.
Coming this Fall by AA Ross Family Counseling is a new course in Stress Management. This course will speak to us as clinicians caring for ourselves and managing our stress just as it will speak to assisting our patients with managing their own stress. It will discuss compassion fatigue including how to know the signs, how to address it once detected, and the dangers of ignoring the signs. This course will be available as a stand-alone course, or as part of our All Access CEU Renewal Packages.