Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Neuropsychologist self-care

I found a touching and useful article today.

It's by John O'Brien and is called Wounded Healer: Psychotherapist Grief Over a Client's Death
You'll find a link to the abstract and citation at http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/pro/42/3/236/

O'Brien concludes that "A psychologist's grief over a client's death can be especially difficult if the psychotherapy has triggered the psychologists' past and/or present grief. If these reactions are not appropriately managed, they can hamper and ultimately impair present and future clinical practice. If, on the other hand, we learn to manage our wounds, we can use these wounds to better serve our clients. Appropriate self-care and consultation with colleagues are essential components of providing ethical and effective care to those who are critically or terminally ill." (O'Brien, 2011, p. 242).

The Australian Psychological Society says that "As a profession we need to support ourselves and our colleagues to seek out preventative and early interventions and to de-stigmatize help-seeking behaviour." http://www.psychology.org.au/practitioner/resources/self-care/

I've had a look on the web for neuropsychologist self-care resources, and have only found articles about neuropsychologists assessing self-care abilities in others!!!

I suspect that self-care for neuropsychologists is somewhat different compared to psychologists engaged in psychotherapy. We deal with patients with devastating acquired injuries or incurable progressive diseases. The majority of us don't follow patients through with regular therapy sessions. We help provide answers to their questions, hopefully provide therapeutic feedback and recommendations, and then send them on their way, with a sense of satisfaction of having helped shed light and knowledge where there was uncertainty and anxiety.

But sometimes our personal lives raise issues that intersect with our professional roles, or we see patients who break through our defences, who affect us emotionally. So what are the strategies neuropsychologists use to care for themselves? Please use the comments box below!

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