The Mandala Exchange is an interactive blogspot where mandala projects, resources, ideas, and knowledge can be shared. The Exchange was formed to be able to continue the mandala work presented at the 2011 AATA conference, "Communicating Through Mandalas: Exploring Traditional and Online Media with Fellow Therapists". The presenters and moderators of this site, wanted the cycle of the mandala to continue and expand through a virtual community of practitioners, artists and explorers.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Its November, that means conferences. This year the American Music Therapy Association met in Atlanta, GA where Ms. Spencer and I provided a 5-hour CMTE: Cultivating a Renewed Sense of Self Through Music and Art. We'd prepared since regional when participants in another workshop requested more.
Everyone can attest to the struggles and difficulties encountered in life. These days we seem to encounter much more than what we'd attribute as our fare-share. With down sizing, re-assignments, and a whole other slew of terms we'd rather not know, most of us have not been unscathed. I've heard quite my share of disappointment and betrayal. I'm sure most of us have.
As most of us can attest, we do what we do because we care. We find that we have an ease of connecting with our fellow man or woman that set us apart. It is that special quality that invites the person behind you at the check-out line to inform you of how their day has been. Of how they've watched people they'd known get laid-off, and how they know its only about time. You are the person who gets informed by some random coffee-house stranger just how much they hate their job, but how its the only way to pay the bills. And you empathize.
In the words of Detective Monk: It is a gift and a curse. We enter the helping professions because we care, because we have a way of making connections with others that not everyone else shares. However, its is this empathetic quality that makes us vulnerable. The disease, Compassion Fatigue. It isn't quite burn-out or Secondary Traumatic Stress but it is akin to both. It is when helpers become fatigued in light of doing their job and doing it well. For caring too much without adequate self-replenishment. Its not unheard-of (go ahead Google the term) and its not something you can vaccinate against.
Its more of a dietary regiment. That's right, a steady diet of the things that are good and good for you. Nutritious balanced eating, exercising (both physical and mental), socializing, and fun. The best defense, is a great offense. By doing the things, while at work and on our off hours, that keep us happy and physically and mentally healthy we build on our own natural resiliency. Its the natural life preserver we always pack with us, its just that sometimes we forget that it's got a leak and needs constant attention.
This week plan on doing something you've been neglecting as of late because of all the extra demands on your time. Even if the pay-off is not evident or immediate.
Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project
The Figley Institute
Green Cross Academy of Traumatology