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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE speaker discusses improving counselors’ self-care

By Luan Nguyen/reporter

A NE Campus audience was told the importance of self-care and the effect of fatigue, stress and burnout on counselors’ relation-to-client outcomes.

Judith Alexander Priest, director of clinical and behavioral health at Recovery Resource Council, shared her professional knowledge in Caring for the Counselor April 5.

Priest defined self-care as “exploring and discovering what makes my spirit sing.”

Burnout and stress disorders can jeopardize a person’s professional performance, she said, and counselors are shown to have high risks. This is why it is important for people to pay attention to self-care, she said. Risks related to stress disorders include sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems, attention problems, decreased immunity to illness, relationship difficulties and performance impairment, she said.

Priest said that, according to a study on codependency by Anne Wilson-Schaef, author of Women’s Reality and Co-Dependence, an estimated 80 percent of people in the helping professions are undiagnosed, untreated codependents. Codependency means living for someone else, through someone else and losing a sense of who you are, she said.

Receiving support from others is important and can reduce stress-related vulnerability. The collective consciousness from social support groups can lead to improving mental health and influencing healthy lifestyle changes, she said. She cited four types of social support — emotional, informational, instrumental and companion.

Research indicates that noticing signs of stress or distress is a sign of health, not impairment, she said. When counselors can view emotional responses to their work as a normal part of empathic engagement, rather than something they just do, they are more likely to seek support, talk to others about their stress and engage in self-care practices to support their well-being, she said.

Priest conducted a group exercise in which attendees placed themselves in a line according to how they rate their current level of stress. South Campus counselor Yung-Chen Megan Chou, who placed herself at a low level of stress, told the class how she deals with stress.

“It is more like self-talk,” she said. “Talk to yourself rationally, then rearrange your priorities, then finish things one after one.”

Priest shared a personal history of trying to emulate her father, a surgeon and researcher mostly absent in her life.

“I can fall into that trap, if I am not careful, of becoming that workaholic trying to gain someone’s respect,” she said.

Notice the patterns and the things that affect who you are and how you act and respond, she said.

Priest also listed 12 techniques people can use to replenish themselves, including exercising, eating healthy, listening to music, getting a massage, pampering oneself, having living things around like plants or pets, reciting favorite quotes or prayers, joining a non-work-related group, having a party with inspirational people, spending time with family and friends, being creative and learning something new.

“It is so easy for us to just go through and exist rather than thrive,” she said. “My challenge to you is live a life of thriving rather than just existing — not a life where you are just constantly reacting to everything around, but thoughtfully living.”

Her presentation to the audience of counselors and students included group exercises, humorous videos and lessons in alternative breathing.

NE student Scott Rhima, who is working toward a real estate degree, said, “I am always looking for an opportunity to better myself.”

The program was presented by NE mental health department, continuing education services and student activities.

 


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