Your most precious asset. At the end of the day: It is the prize that will be the key to your success. 5/9/2016

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1 Stress Management in Child Welfare Practice Margie Albers LCSW November 2014 First Question today What brought you to this job? Why did you choose a job that has such a high level of stress? What motivates you to do this job? Write down your answer on page 2 or your handout packet Your most precious asset At the end of the day: It is the prize that will be the key to your success. 1

2 What makes people happy Sense of Purpose Today Let practice what we preach and look at what works What skills do you bring How do we build strength Objectives: As a result of this training, participants will be able to: Identify positive and negative effects of stress and distinguish between them Assess at least two possible sources of stress in the workplace as a child welfare worker and state at least two strategies to mitigate these stressors Identify the differences between Burnout and Secondary traumatic stress 2

3 Question Is stress really bad for you? Let s see what national expert says Stress and your body Hans Selye s view in 1956 was that stress is not necessarily something bad it all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation or infection is detrimental. Selye believed that the biochemical effects of stress would be experienced irrespective of whether the situation was positive or negative. Perception is the editor of reality You may not have control over much but You have a lot of control over your perception 3

4 What is your perspective? On a scale of being stress is good 10 being it is bad Where are you? Where are the people you work with? Internalizing Stress Most of the stress we experience is self-generated. How we perceive life; whether an event makes us feel threatened or stimulated, encouraged or discouraged, happy or sad - depends to a large extent on how we perceive ourselves. The human body chemically responds to stress When you are under pressure or additional demands have been made your body reacts fight or flight. Humans naturally want to defend themselves in challenging or difficult situations. 4

5 Your Stress What does it look like? Different for different people Check out the list What are yours? What have you done that works? Make a list Food for thought list of behaviors that help and don t really help Check it out Energy 5

6 Good feeling Bad feeling If you are running on empty you are risking exhaustion and burn-out Filling your vase Is a critical job skill because of the nature of what you see and hear 6

7 Exhaustion In chronic stress situations, sufferers enter the exhaustion phase: emotional, physical and mental resources suffer heavily, the body experiences adrenal exhaustion leading to decreased stress tolerance, progressive mental and physical exhaustion, illness and collapse. Secondary Traumatic Stress, Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma and burnout 7

8 Do they mean the same thing? How are they different? Compassion Fatigue Although often used as a synonym for Secondary Traumatic Stress, it is different. The combination of burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress results in Compassion Fatigue. Vicarious Trauma Can be used interchangeably with Secondary Traumatic Stress 8

9 Secondary Traumatic Stress The pain and helplessness of the children we come into contact with can be passed on to those around them A trauma is a psychologically distressing event that is outside the range of usual human experience. Trauma often involves a sense of intense fear, terror and helplessness Trauma is an experience that induces an abnormally intense and prolonged stress response Source: Child Trauma Academy Secondary Traumatic Stress Sudden Onset 38% of Social Workers experience moderate to high levels of secondary traumatic stress. (Cornille & Meyers, 1999) Contrary to popular belief it is not just the horrendous cases of abuse, like child deaths or serious injuries, that are secondarily traumatizing for caseworkers. Secondary trauma is cumulative. Even the small things, like seeing sadness in a child s eyes when a home visit ends, can be traumatizing for a caseworker. Witnessing these events over and over again can have a negative effect on even the most compassionate and resilient caseworkers. Burnout Gradual Onset the index of the dislocation between what people are and what they have to do. (Maslach, Leiter, 1997) describes a syndrome that goes beyond physical fatigue from overwork. Stress and emotional exhaustion are a part of it, but the hallmark of burnout is the distancing that goes on in response to overload. (Maslach, 1997) 9

10 Burnout: Indicators Erosion in values, dignity, spirit and will-an erosion of the human soul Over time; imbalance of what you can give and provides less than what you need Feel overworked, undervalued, no longer in control of the job you do Presence of negative emotions and the absence of positive ones Sensibilities, Inc Research There has been a great deal of research on the effects of listening to other people s traumatic stories as it relates to mental health professionals, post 9/11 service personnel, crisis counselors, doctors, and nurses. But only recently have researchers begun to look at the phenomena of Secondary Trauma and how it effects Child Welfare Social Workers Exposure Child Welfare Social Workers are exposed to different forms of traumatic events on a daily basis. They are required investigate child abuse, remove children from their homes, interact with angry, hostile parents, the court and all the while be supportive and nurturing while listening to horrible stories of child abuse and neglect. 10

11 Why are you at risk Empathy: Social Worker internalization of the child s trauma related pain Insufficient Recovery Time: Listening to children describe horrific situations over and over again without enough time to process Unresolved Personal Trauma: Your own traumatic experience can be re-activated when working with someone in a similar circumstance Source: Child Trauma Academy Why you are at risk Children are the most vulnerable members of our society: At times, the senseless nature of some of the trauma inflicted on children shake s ones sense of humanity Isolation & Systemic Fragmentation: Individual service delivery vs. team oriented practice and high turnover decreases your ability to handle stress Lack of Systemic Resources: Lack of economic and personal investment in front line services Does Secondary Traumatic Stress = Burnout? 11

12 Does Secondary Traumatic Stress = Burnout? How at risk are you? Self Test Compassion Satisfaction/Fatigue Self-test for Helpers Signs and Symptoms of STS Tired Less socializing Lower productivity Hopelessness Despair Cynicism Question humanity Persistent anger or sadness Disturbing mental images Anxiety Nightmares Decreased sense of safety (Siegfried, 2008) 12

13 So how do we move towards Compassion Satisfaction? Secondary Post Traumatic Growth What do you think relates to us? Pay attention to the vase Make sure to keep it full What do you see? 13

14 BE AN OPTIMIST THEY REALLY DO LIVE LONGER How to be a half full kind a person Think about what went right today Reframe What is the lesson to learn? Crisis? Relax, breath, fill Remember that you do not know the middle and the end, you are at the beginning You don t know the end of the story until you get there. 14

15 Afterwards Make sure you are back to base line!!!! Walker Talker Cleaner Practice what you preach Got a network? Get help when you need it? Looking at what you do right? Have a life!! 15

16 Avoid playing ain t it awful Other than making you feel awful and powerless It actually increases your STS Every day What do you do that keeps you strong What works for you now? What area are you the best at? What area would you like to add to> 16

17 When experiencing high levels of stress Don t Make big decisions Blame others Expend energy complaining Try a quick fix Do Reframe: Determine other approaches to the issue or concern; ask advice from coworkers Think outside the box REMEMBER: STS is NOT a sign of Social Worker weakness Secondary Trauma is a real issue for child welfare social workers. Although there is likely no way to avoid it altogether, there are ways to mitigate the effects. Just as individuals need take responsibility for their own emotional health, organizations need to take responsibility for their employee s wellbeing So What are you going to do so that you thrive? So that at the end of your story your cup will be running over? 17

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