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Jun 2014 by PCI College

Bite-Sized Book Review: 'The Resilient Practitioner' by Thomas M. Skovolt & Michelle Trotter-Mathison

'The Resilient Practitioner' by Thomas M. Skovolt & Michelle Trotter-Mathison is reviewed this week by PCI Lecturer Willie Egan

In keeping with the theme of the upcoming National Counselling & Psychotherapy Conference, i.e. 'The Art & Science of Self-Care', I have chosen to highlight the main focus of 'The Resilient Practitioner' on the subject of Self-Care strategies and Burnout prevention which I keep as a constant reminder and companion on my office coffee-table.

The Problem
The book begins with dramatic eye-opening quotations on the problem of self-care from writers with whom we are very familiar. At least we are familiar with their teachings and writings....but are we as familiar with their experience of self-care?

“Too often we therapist neglect our personal relationships. Our work becomes our life. At the end of our working day, having given so much of ourselves, we feel drained of desire for more relationship” Irving Yalom

“I have always been better at caring for and looking after others than I have been at caring for myself. But in these latter years, I have made progress” Carl Rogers aged 75!

After reading those quotations from such eminent people in the field, it became clear that the writers were crystal clear on one issue: there is no further room for denial or ambivalence on the subject of the Ethical need for self-care.

The Solution
Having established the problem at length, including exploring the seven sources of Burnout, the writers begin to outline pragmatic self-care strategies for all therapists, which they rightly proclaim to be as important to implement and constantly update as are our basic skills as therapists.

I feel that the wonderful observation by T.S. Elliot that: “Between the Ideal and the Real lies a heavy shadow”, whilst not quoted as such, is at the heart of this book.

With this in mind, the writers take this Ideal from the comfort zone of the back of our minds and plant it firmly at the uncomfortable front of Reality as the gently but firmly go about education us therapists while using a CBT/Choice Theory-type model of regular written inventory exercises on the critical subject of our wellbeing, including frequent Self-Reflection exercises and a periodic “Inventory of Wellbeing”, under headings such as Professional Vitality, Personal Vitality, Professional Stress and Personal Stress.

All in all, I believe this practical strategic move from Ideal to Real....from Aspirational to Motivational....from Awareness to Action, in a defined “Self-care in Action” programme has the potential to make a crucial difference to the lives and wellbeing of any and all therapists.

Willie Egan,
PCI College Lecturer (June 2014)

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