Advocacy Through Self-CarePosted: April 14, 2014 | |
Speaking out about child abuse and trauma is one of the most powerful steps a person can take in their journey towards healing. Entering into discussions about abuse on the community level contributes to the validation and legitimization of the experiences of those affected while also raising awareness to bring about change and prevention. Speaking out about these tremendously difficult and terrifying experiences is challenging and those who do speak up are incredibly brave. When we engage in this dialogue, we give our support to survivors but we also open ourselves up to painful emotions, which is why it is important to take care of ourselves. I want to contribute to National Child Abuse Prevention Month by getting counselors, community members, and anyone involved in this issue to take care of ourselves so that we can keep talking and advocating with passion and empathy.
In the counseling field when we talk about taking care of ourselves we are talking about self-care. Self-care is about being mindful of the ways that challenging life experiences and stressors impact our physical, mental, and emotional health. Self- care addresses how to feel valued and meet our needs before, during, and after those experiences. Coping with stress is very challenging and it takes awareness and experimentation, but as we practice self-care, we start to notice the benefits. Engaging in self-care helps you feel healthier and more available to cope with stress. It also helps you to be more present with loved ones and able to give of yourself to others who need you. In the Family Support and Counseling Program we work with clients on self-care because it benefits the client and their family. As counselors we work on self-care because it helps us to be fully present with clients. We also raise awareness about self-care through trainings and workshops.
Later this month, I will be attending the New York State Conference on Child Abuse Prevention. As part of the conference, I will be leading a workshop for mental health professionals on the importance of self-care when working with families affected by child abuse and trauma. I will have the opportunity to educate others on the benefits of self-care and help providers and community agencies increase their ability to provide staff support. I am grateful to have this opportunity because I know it will assist counselors and their clients when working on recovering from trauma and preventing future instances of abuse. I also believe it will help all those who enter the conversation on abuse and prevention keep talking and healing together.
Alicia Leporati, LMHC