MSC for Healthcare Communities
Self-Compassion for Healthcare Communities (SCHC)
The SCHC program is the 6-wk MSC adaptation Kristin Neff has been researching for 3 years with evidence to support a 32% decrease in stress, 31% decrease in anxiety, and a 28% decrease in depression in healthcare professionals.
The field of healthcare is a unique but important context to bring the benefits of self-compassion. Healthcare professionals spend their days caring for others in a fast paced, sometimes under-resourced workplace. Often, they do not have time to process the difficult emotions that arise in response to caring for people in pain or navigating a complicated institutional structure. This MSC adaptation was designed with busy professionals’ time constraints and emotional needs in mind. It is not self-care. “Self-care” is an overused term that applies to the activities the healthcare provider is told to do after work to cope with stress, such as get a massage, take a hot bath, or drink a glass of wine. Many see “self-care” as one more thing about which to feel guilty or for which they have no time to do. SCHC training program teaches concepts , skills and practices that can be used while the HCP is on the job.
A few years ago, Burn Out was a term HCP were familiar with. Now names such as “Compassion Fatigue” or Moral Distress are the nomenclature in many professional journals. “Empathy fatigue” and “empathetic resonance” may be new concepts for some but they refer to the same challenge many Healthcare Professionals experience at one time or another in their career. The term refers to feeling emotionally exhausted, detached, and less accomplished in one’s professional role. People become burned out in healthcare due to institutional and systemic factors (e.g. under- resourced hospitals, constant evaluation by administrators) and individual factors (e.g. caring for others in pain, the pressure to be perfect). Burned out professionals are less likely to feel motivated in their work and more likely to leave their job.
In their challenging work environment, healthcare professionals often distance themselves from the suffering of others. The compassion with equanimity practice is invaluable for them to set boundaries between themselves and their patients’ and coworkers’ suffering so that they can maintain a compassionate connection. A burned out professional is a deeply caring professional who is fatigued and protecting themselves from being overwhelmed by difficult feelings. To quote Ayala Pines, “In order to burn out, a person needs to have been on fire at one time.”
Some healthcare administrators may use “Resiliency Training” which is often offered to healthcare professionals to continue abusive practices, ensuring that employees can work longer hours and tougher shifts for the organization. Fierce compassion can help HCP to stand up to these unfair practices and advocate for their and their coworkers’ personal well-being.
Stressors and burnout can vary by how many years someone has been in the profession. This does not imply that length of time in healthcare leads to more burnout. Burnout can occur early or later in a healthcare career for various reasons.
Often, burnout is used as a catchall term for emotional distress. Keep in mind that some HCP may instead be experiencing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or STSD (Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder) or revisiting trauma from their personal history. These issues should be addressed with qualified counselors.
Emotional Awareness and Vulnerability
Compartmentalization of emotions is taught and normalized in healthcare and is needed in many emergency situations. Emotional vulnerability can be seen as a weakness in certain contexts and it’s not always appropriate or helpful to be in “feeling mode.”
Have you ever wondered if there was a skill you could use to help you sustain real compassionate care for patients in the face of competing demands like paperwork and technology, time pressure, patient trauma and fatigue? Burgeoning research is showing that self-compassion skills can be of particular benefit to heath care workers, allowing them to experience greater satisfaction in their caregiving roles and reduced feelings of stress and burnout. The good news is that self-compassion skills are trainable and build your inner resiliency.
Self-Compassion Training for Healthcare Communities (SCHC) is an adapted program tailored toward the use of mindfulness and self-compassion practices in the healthcare setting. This brief training aims to improve wellbeing and decrease burnout in healthcare professionals by training skills to deal with distressing emotional situations as they occur.
As opposed to other self care techniques, MSC practices can be used on the spot while at work with patients and colleagues. Participants of the program will learn tools to utilize throughout the workday to:
• Care for yourself while caring for others
• Be able to listen with compassion
• Handle difficult emotions with greater ease
• Reconnect to the values that give your life and work meaning
The Self-Compassion Training for Healthcare Communities (SCHC) meets for 6 sessions of 60 minutes at your facility.
A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day.
A string of such moments can change the course of your life.
– Chris Germer
For more information on bringing this program to your health care facility, contact us at MSC@bell.net