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Staying positive

2015

I am a second year practicum student and have lately been conflicted with my emotions from my experiences at my practicum. I am working with young children and have recently been involved with a student disclosing abuse. It is hard to watch a young child screaming and crying because they are afraid to go home. It really tugs at my heart to see the child so upset. My supervisor was great about checking in with me to make sure I was ok after the day of the disclosure. I did feel ok to a point but was struggling with my own feelings about the day. I am unsure of how to balance my thoughts and feelings between my practicum and my personal life. I find that as I go about my day in my personal life I will reflect on this particular student as well as other students I have worked with. I worry about some students and feel myself stressing over their situations.

I have learned a lot thus far in my studies about self care and the importance of looking after ourselves in this profession. I do fully believe self care is necessary and of utmost importance for everyone in life and especially for people that work in a helping role. I do practice self care regularly and feel better when I do however my struggle is real and I do spend some of my time with concerns for the young children I see at my practicum.

I find myself questioning if I should be able to see the line more clearly between practicum and personal life or if this is natural that the lines are blurred. Is this part of the job so to speak? I understand that it is normal that when in a helping career you will take home the job with you in that your clients/children/youth are often on your mind.

My question is does anyone have any advice on how best to deal with helping and caring for children in a way that you are able to still maintain a positive outlook in all aspects of your life?

Jennifer
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I think you have already started your journey on the road to self care. You are acknowledging the impact of troubled and vulnerable children on you. Some call this a form of vicarious trauma. I prefer to see this as our ability to resonate empathically with others. This is the quality of being able to be affected and sensitive to others.

The question and challenge is to find the balance and a line that is suggested that we can point to. Since it isn't a real line you can't, nor can anyone else see it. You need to draw your own line by creating your own balance. It will differ according to the days and situations and encounters.

This becomes more a dance with yourself where you need to allow the emotions to flow and then to take them and find ways to channel them so that they are not controlling you. Some days this is easier than others.

Let it happen.

Share with others....like here....but with your peers....someone you can trust.

Seek balance and whatever reminds you that there is good...or something larger......or whatever....in the world as well as the pain.

Rick Kelly
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Jennifer - your question is wonderful and well articulated. The lines between professional and personal are always blurred as we are in relational and human work alongside others. It is important to keep a personal balance. Working alongside young people who have experienced trauma means you are affected, in a way, by that same trauma. It is part of the job and a reminder of the importance of taking care of ourselves along the way in the journey of helping others. As our friend, Jaiya John says, "Only when we begin to understand trauma's persona, are we empowered to prevent, manage, and heal it".

James Freeman
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Hi Jennifer,

You show courage by sharing your challenge! The costs of caring can be prevented and the awareness you are demonstrating and the fact you are requesting assistance indicate you are being pro-active. The research indicates that individuals who are self-aware, have emotional intelligence, self-efficacy, support (partner, co-worker, therapist, supervisor) learn to work through the process of feeling. What you are feeling is a "yucky" moment. As someone who believed it was better to avoid the emotions and not ask for support I did not remain healthy. Continue the process but find some support (someone you trust).

Good luck.

Charlene
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