As part of our staff meeting today we watched this video by Diane Langberg. It reviews the 3 stages of typical trauma recovery process plus focuses on the impact of the work on the counselor. Self-care is a common conversation these days. However, a few lines stuck out to me:
Unless we take care of ourselves, we will not be able to bear witness…. Vicarious trauma is not something done to us but a consequence of having empathy…. Evil and suffering also provide an opportunity to expose the weak places in [the counselor]…. Seek out the antidotes to the poison that you sit with…[these antidotes] are not just good coping mechanisms but part and parcel to living the life obedient to God.
Last night, Dr. Tan (Fuller) spoke on the topic of self-care. During the presentation he interacted with Dr. Sally Schwer Canning’s short essay in a previous Journal of Psychology & Christianity issue (2001, v 30, p 70-74). Dr. Canning raised some concerns about self-care and “balance” language. We all know that we can get out of balance and that we do need to do things to care for ourselves. However, there are times, Dr. Tan said, that we are put out of balance by God. He reminded us of Paul’s statement that he was overwhelmed to the point of despairing of life. He was ship-wrecked and more.
In the name of self-care, we sometimes put up inappropriate boundaries.
Both Tan and Canning suggest that “stewardship” may be a better image for us to us? How are we stewarding the gifts and resources we have, even when life is out of balance?
What do you think? Does stewardship get the same point as self-care?
One of my former students, Eartha Holland, just got a short essay published by the Black American Association of Christian Counselors (BAACC). She had some really good points so I got permission from her to post her page here. Some good reminders of the necessity of caring for our own souls.Eartha-BAACC Self Care Article