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  • Writer's pictureDr Dermot Casey

Professional Carers - How to maximise your resilience response

The word resilience has become one that we use a lot in our daily life to describe someone that is strong. What if I were to say to you also – if you are caring for another person, in any way whatsoever, you are working on their resilience. Is that not a nice thing to know, that when you care for others each day you are building their resilience response.

So, for me resilience is very much an ever-present part of our lives. Not only in relation to supporting others to maximise theirs, but also because we are at all times maintaining our own resilience response, so as to counteract the adversities that we face each day.

I feel that a problem in the way that we care is that we are not focusing enough on this human, innate, ever-present resource called resilience, when we are working with clients. Instead we are spending too much time and effort on what is not present.

I do understand that sometimes we also need to work on eliminating challenges and developing skills in people that we are working with, as this will also enhance the resilience response. However, the joint efforts of you, as the carer, in collaboration with the client, will be much better spent on getting a better balance by working more with what is already in each person’s locker – their strengths – which is the fuel of their resilience response process.

Vicarious resilience

As a professional caregiver I find that it is an honour and privilege to witness daily the resilience of people who have gone through significant adversity. I admire that they can share with me how, at different stages of their life when dealing with specific difficulties, they used this resilience. Sometimes they do not realise that they did this until they hear themselves talking about it or it is pointed out to them by the caregiver.

When discussing with other professionals I highlight these moments to show that you learn from the people that you meet daily how resilient we all can be; I refer to it as ‘vicarious resilience’. It also gives me confidence in my own ability to cope when adversity finds me, if I believe in myself. These encounters also strengthen my resolve, when working with people that are experiencing significant adversity, to express that I genuinely believe that they will get through it, which they normally do. I can now say this with conviction, confidence and compassion.

This is why we need to change the way that we care for people. There are many names that we might use when talking about clients and describing how strong, adaptable and courageous they are.

Maybe now you can identify that this is the process of resilience that is being activated in clients to the level that it becomes recognizable. When we are caring for people, no matter what care profession we work in, the one process that we are always supporting is the resilience response.

Resilience is the umbrella process that is operating at a physical and psychological level at all times. This is not something that we have to teach people, it is innate.

However, at times we all need to become more self-aware of our own processes and the processes of the clients that we work with. Jointly working on this process of resilience is where we need to focus our efforts more, going forward, in how we care.

The client that is in front of you right now is resilient, and has been so since the moment that they were conceived; all they are looking for is support in making modifications and becoming more aware of how strong and resilient they actually are.

Caring for someone is the simple act of allowing the person to recover and move forward again (resilience). This is achieved by supporting the client to change how they cope or live their lives.

We carers also need to adjust how we are maximising our own resilience processes. And we can do this in many ways, for example, working to our strengths, becoming more aware of how our work is impacting on us, and lastly, caring for ourselves along with caring for others – caring within caringwhich will be the topic of a future blog.

If you have any comments on the above please contact me as shown below.

Thanks for reading

Dr Dermot Casey

Counselling Psychologist, Cork, Ireland.


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