Moving On From Lockdown..
Following on from my last blog, But I Want To Help!!, I decided that counsellors and Coaches would be needed to treat all of the trauma that COVID-19 has induced. Trauma is everywhere, isn’t it ? As a therapist I see trauma in all of my clients. Not PTSD necessarily, but some trauma in their life line that accounts for how they are currently feeling. Most low mood, anxiety and attachment issues, can be linked back to a traumatic event or early childhood neglect or loss.
I am used to unearthing the trauma ( What is Trauma? )so that we can process and heal it. I am experienced in this field and fascinated by it. The fact that there are now tools out there to heal trauma is amazing. Trauma can indeed be healed not just learnt to live with. I even use trauma skills in unblocking the toxicity that is created by working for a toxic boss or in a toxic workplace.
I also realised that people were functioning in different ways, as were organisations. Some were sitting waiting and others were acting. This downtime for some was becoming fertile ground on which to grow the future of their business or life, taking learning from this enforced isolation and weaving it into their forward planning.
Recovery After Major Incidents
I decided to research how recovery happens after such momentous events , events over which we have no control. I thought that this would inform me on my journey going forward. Help me to reengineer myself, to adapt to what will be needed after COVID is conquered ( as I am sure it will be, all things pass).
I started to research 9/11 and its aftermath, interested in how they recovered and built on this tragedy. I learnt that therapists were not the answer, certainly not immediately! They have a place certainly, but further down the road and I also learned that critical incident debriefing can actually backfire. Instead, what is needed is a lighter touch, in the guise of ‘Psychological first aid’. It is about providing compassion and practical help. It aims to (1):
Stabilise so that stress is not made worse.
Mitigate acute stress
Facilitate access to continued support
In essence, practical help by informed people is the antidote to preventing trauma setting in. It does not have to be provided by a therapist or psychologist but just by an individual who is a good listener, well informed and practical.
The Reality for Therapists & Coaches
This, for a therapist keen to help is a wake up call! Yes, there will be some who need therapy once the immediate crisis has passed and life returns to normal, however that may look. But most people can and will process these strange times in their own way, using their own naturally acquired inner resilience ( When Life Gives us Lemons…!!.)
Perhaps what is needed is more resourcing of ourselves. This is pertinent for organisations also, they need to resource themselves and their staff. Offer the First Aid kit above and invest in staff wellbeing. New ways of working need to be explored. Remote working may now be the way forward,but how do organisations provide the much needed team element and connection that humans need?
Other organisations will need to completely review working practices. Do GP’s need to physically see every patient? Can remote working step in and can people become more self triaging? For example the NHS is obviously creaking and overstretched but A&E are seeing a very different tale. They are less busy than ever before, so I have heard reported. Is this because we are now self triaging? Do we need urgent medical attention or can we stay home and recover. Obviously, not true for all, but certainly it is interesting data going forward post COVID.
Maybe the culture of binge drinking is effecting the numbers turning at A&E. I am sure is still an issue, but instead of fighting, people are going to bed. Less fights, less injuries.
Think Outside of The Box
It is a time for us all and for every organisation to strip itself down and look at lessons learnt. What is needed, what is habit? As a therapist, I need to be mindful of looking for trauma everywhere. It may exist, but may just need the space to be witnessed rather that treated. This does not mean ignoring PTSD and complex trauma but just being aware of what is the right level of intervention, the correct dose administered at the right time.
Coaching at the moment is useful as a way of processing the events of recent times. It is worth stepping into now to give you, ( and me), the space to reflect and allow ideas of future you or future business to germinate and solidify. Coaching is about the individual as much as the organisation. They are inextricably linked.
My own learning is that I can be too keen to help. I want to be useful and need to create a role for myself that is actually needed, not one that I feel is the best option for all. I love stripping away how a business works. I come from a person centric focus that is driven by the human interactions I experience. The undercurrents and ripples I see with great clarity. I have always disliked the answer to my question “Why do you do it that particular way” ‘well, we have always done it like this’. Silos ( Working in a Silo, Creates Havoc! ) as a way of working can be ripped down and reengineered. Excuses about spending cuts & now Covid can be used to hide behind but now is a real chance to sort the wheat from the chaff (Social Services Hiding Inefficiency behind Austerity..) .
Use the time to dig deep, soul search and be brutally honest with yourself. What is working, what is not, where do I want to go, who do I want to be? When I eventually get there, I will be only too happy to share my findings. Whether anyone chooses to listen is another thing.
1. Psychological First Aid
Psychological First Aid can help support family and friends through a crisis.
Posted Oct 09, 2018 (https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/when-disaster-strikes-inside-disaster-psychology/201810/psychological-first-aid)
1. J. Daw: What have we learned since 9/11? (September 2002, Vol 33, No. 8. Print version: page 32:)