Seckman_ Jim Taking Care of the Counselor GSAS

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					 Taking Care of the Counselor

     Jim Seckman, MAC, CACII, CCS

          Fifth Annual
Georgia School of Addiction Studies
                        TIPS FOR STRONG TEAMS

Work Together
 Encourage involvement and interaction of all members
  You are all working for the same goals
 Take responsibility for your area of expertise and your job
  It takes everyone to provide the best
 Meet regularly together to discuss clients
 Be available to help other staff
 Foster a sense of safety and trust in the team

Ask for Help
   Don’t isolate
   Ask questions
   It is not shameful to be honest about our limitations-You can’t know everything
   Use the team to help in all situations

Respect Each Other
   Respect everyone’s differing areas of expertise
   Everyone is accountable for their area of expertise
   Practice open and honest communication
   Keep focused on current issues
   Compliment and praise one another
   Follow the Golden Rule
   Never say anything negative about anyone else (especially to clients!)
                 SPLITTING IN THE STAFF

 Arguing over established Procedures and Policies
 Some staff wanting to make exceptions for specific clients
 A staff member(s) who feel they must “protect” or defend a specific client from other
  staff (splitting)
 Feeling like some staff are unkind/unfair to a specific client (splitting)
 Being unkind/unfair to a specific client
 Being overly kind to a specific client
 Staff members acting out family roles (e.g. Hero, Scapegoat, Lost Child)
 Passive-Aggressive behaviors
 Irritability with other staff for insignificant reasons

 Work closely with the team (We need a unified approach)
 Increase your awareness of your feelings towards the patients (e.g. anxiety, agitation,
  sympathy, attraction, etc.)

The main point here is to examine our feelings towards the clients and, whether they are
positive or negative feelings, explore whether or not we are acting out the clients’
unresolved issues and negative feelings. We can then tailor our relationship and
interactions with them to avoid reenacting their conflicts and giving them a different
experience, thus giving them the responsibility for their lives.

 Learn your triggers - Awareness of what kind of client triggers us, both positively and
  negatively. (e.g. attractive young man or woman, borderline, bully, manipulative)
 Set Boundaries
 Remain objective with the clients
                             K.I.N.D. PRINCIPLES

Know Yourself
“Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing oneself is enlightenment.” Lao Tzu

Too often when we think about the stress in our lives, we look at, and want to change, the
external sources of our stress. But stress is not what happens to us, rather, it’s what
happen inside us. It’s not the circumstances that are stressful, it’s how we respond to the
circumstances with stress. So, while we should work to decrease circumstances that
increase stress in us, we need to examine how and why we view/engage/participate in life
and respond to our circumstances with a reaction of stress.


    Work on your family of origin issues (e.g. anxiety, fears, shame, expectations,
     perfectionism). Examine carefully and honestly how you act them out in the
     “stressful” circumstances of your life.
     (For example, what is your expectation of yourself re: hard work? Many people
     have grown up in families where anything that wasn’t “hard work” was being
     lazy, there is no in-between. That creates a dilemma of increasing cycles of
     working and feelings of guilt and shame when we’re trying to relax.)
    Work on clearly identifying the old messages that continue to drive you into
     shame, anxiety, fear, perfectionism, etc. This may take some hard and difficult
     work, with or without therapy.
    Increase you awareness of the feeling you get when these messages hit you. Your
     feelings are the best tool you’ve got!
    Use the “Even though” formula.
     Just insert the phrase “even though” into the middle of a sentence. The first part
     of the sentence is behavior you need to do for yourself. The second part of the
     sentence is the negative feeling that may arise in you as a result of the behavior.
     So, for example,

       I will take care of myself even though I feel guilty.

     What you will notice as you practice this formula is that the positive self-
     nurturing behaviors will begin to increase and the negative feelings will begin to
    Carefully consider how you might self-sabotage through fear, chaos, compulsive
     behaviors, attitudes, anger, etc.
    Increase your self-awareness of self-defeating thoughts and behaviors; don’t
     suppress them. You want to be aware of how you sabotage yourself, even though
     it’s a painful process.
    Take responsibility for you thoughts and behaviors and make changes.
Invest Yourself in Your Work
Invest – “To contribute time, energy, or effort to an activity or project, or undertaking in
the expectation of a benefit.”


    Get rid of the “me vs. them” attitude (e.g. clinical vs. administrative). It will only
     drain your strength and build resentments
    Focus on the task at hand—be present in the present
    Prioritize your tasks - Make lists of what’s needed
    Clearly separate the urgent vs. the necessary
    Doing your best benefits you (Be careful about passive-aggressive acting out; this
     damages us as well as the company)
    Maintain your boundaries
    Be clear about what is our stuff vs. their stuff
    Don’t work harder than they do for their recovery (don’t take responsibility for
     what really belongs to them)
    You’re not the source of their discomfort
    Be realistic about the client’s progress/outcome
    Watch your expectations!
    Container Model (Bion) – As counselors we function as containers for clients’
     issues until they are able to work on them. The problem is that we may not just
     hold these issues temporarily, but take them as our own and act them out. The
     clients may want us to take their negative feelings for them. But, we must not
     keep them. The clients must work these issues out for themselves.
    Don’t absorb/act out others’ anxiety (Sheldon Heath) (e.g. You can feel
     depressed, but you don’t have to be depressed)
    Work with the team (handout - Tips for Teams)
    Remember - It is just a job!

Be Nice to Yourself

    Work your program!
    Know your strengths and limitations; work on improving your limitations and
     practice your strengths. But don’t focus on your flaws
    Be gentle with yourself
    Perfection is for the gods. You ain’t one. Give yourself a break.
    Take time off! Period.
    Practice your hobby
    Get enough sleep, rest and relaxation
    Eat nutritionally balanced meals
    Exercise to work off the effects of stress
    Get regular physicals
    Take time to “decompress” from work
    Ask for what you need
    Give yourself rewards and confirmation for good work rather than waiting for
     validation from someone else
    Have a support group
    Avoid unnecessary stress when possible
    Work your program!

Develop Yourself

      Continue to get continuing education and training
      Learn all you can - Knowledge gives us wisdom and strength
      Keep up with the supervision
      Learn all you can about Projection/Projective Identification. Increase your
       awareness of the projective process and occurrences in your work. Learn all you
       can about how your personality, style and responses interact with the clients’


Work on developing Gratitude, Patience and Faith. These are qualities that are not
necessarily intrinsic to us, but must be strengthened like a muscle.


    Stay focused on priorities, gratitude, thanks, blessings and happiness
    Focusing on gratitude helps us to be healthier, happier, more optimistic, rested
     better able to help others
    Keep a gratitude journal - What are your grateful for/Why?/Who was involved?
    Express gratitude to others (start a kindness cycle)
    Happy people are grateful – ungrateful people cannot be happy
    Increase your gratitude awareness
    Instead of trying to figure out what’s wrong, work on figuring out what’s right!


“Patience is something you do, not something you have or don’t have.” (Ryan)

“Impatience is a habit; so is patience. And by practicing being patient, you can increase
its presence in your life and your peace of mind.”

Patience is “the capacity to stop before you act so you’re clearly able to decide the best
course of action or choose the right words to say instead of simply reacting.”
    Patience brings 3 qualities together:

       Persistence – working steadily towards our goals and dreams
       Serenity – calmness of spirit; keeping circumstances in perspective rather than
       being fearful or angry
       Acceptance – the ability to cope with obstacles graciously and respond to life’s
       challenges with courage, strength and optimism.

“Patience is a decision we make again and again.”

    Steps to strengthening patience:

   1. Reframe the situation by asking yourself one question: How else could I look at
      this situation that would increase the possibility of a good outcome or greater
      peace of mind? “What you’re looking for is an interpretation that offers
      possibility instead of panic, hope instead of hysteria. The payoff is a leap in your
      ability to engage resourcefully with life when it doesn’t appear to be going your

   2. Remind yourself that change is inevitable. When times are tough, it’s helpful to
      remember that this, too, shall pass. Doing so gives you strength, hope and
      patience needed to carry on.

   3. Take yourself on a mental vacation. “If you’re in a situation that’s aggravating,
      visualize the most peaceful place you can think of. See, hear and feel yourself
      there. Rather than focusing on how long you have to wait, relish a chance to take
      a quick daydream trip to a peaceful place.”

   4. Keep a “pebble” in your pocket. When you start to feel irritation rise, move the
      pebble from one pocket to the other to help interrupt the anger cycle and give
      yourself a chance to regroup.

   5. Ask for help. Lots of times we’re impatient because we’re overloaded. “There’s
      no prize at the end of your life for doing too much, particularly in a frazzled

   6. Start a patience movement. Thank others for being patient when you’ve been
      the one holding up the line. “It will diffuse their tension and yours, and perhaps
      encourage others to be more patient as well.”

   7. Never say anything negative. Negative talk, whether it is about ourselves or
      others or situations, is a poison that consumes us. Try not making negative
      comments about yourself, others, or situations for a day and see how you feel.
      Then start stretching out the time period. It takes practice. But the payoffs are
      wonderful. One note: it doesn’t mean we are dishonest; we can speak the truth
      without negativity.

Spirituality – The process of working for a deeper meaning and connection with self,
others, nature and a Higher Power

    Is there a belief/practice/organizing/unifying principle in your life? Something
     that you can apply your life and circumstances to that help you find a deeper
     connection and make sense of life and what you do?
    Don’t wait! - Practice some type of pattern of spirituality in your daily living,
     rather than just reacting to circumstances
    Use the 12-Steps in all areas of your life! They’re not just for addiction!
    Love your Longing (May) – Learn to accept and embrace that part of you that is
     restless and seeking
    Meditate, pray, listen
    Be curious
    Read inspiring literature
    Hang around inspiring people
    Create! Have a hobby that absorbs you.
    Recreate! Play!
    Laugh! Cultivate your sense of humor
    Talk out your worries and fears with someone you trust
    Look at the bigger picture

There is almost no end to the books available to help us with our peace, growth and
health. These are some books that have been specifically helpful to me. I encourage you
to create your own list.

The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
The Power of Patience - M.J. Ryan
Happiness is a Serious Problem – Dennis Prager
Coping with Your Anger – Andy Lester
The Art of Recovery – Mary Delaney
The Three Inner Voices – Richard Hartnett
The Tao of Pooh – Benjamin Hoff
Dealing with the Therapist’s Vulnerability to Depression – Sheldon Heath
Addiction and Grace – Gerald May
The Spirituality of Imperfection – Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham
The Bible

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