This will be a super quick post as I have two new workshops to prepare today and am very behind, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about some recent experiences. My past two weeks of work have been so rewarding and fulfilling, and it made me reflect on this concept, which Pearlman and Saakvitne discuss in their amazing little book Transforming the Pain (a book that was truly the cornerstone of the work Robin Cameron and I have done in the field of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma). At the end of Transforming the Pain, the authors invite readers to reflect and reconnect with the rewards of this work of helping others: What sustains you as a professional, they ask, what helps you reconnect with hope, joy and gets you going every day, to do this deeply challenging work? For me, running the Compassion Fatigue Train the Trainer courses is definitely among the top 5 reasons I do this work.
I just completed two such sessions: One at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and one in Kingston. The second training was an intensive – a three day retreat with a very small group of compassion fatigue educators, the Sinai one was with a larger group of health care workers. It is such a privilege to get to spend several days with these highly motivated trainees who have not only a huge interest in the field but also a vast amount of professional and lived experience themselves. It is not an expert vs student setting, but rather a knowledge exchange where everyone learns from the rest of the group, including (or especially) me. On the second day of the course, participants are asked to design and deliver a teaching component to the remainder of the class. This can be a nerve-wracking experience for those who have never done public speaking before. But every time I run this training, something magical happens on day two: people start owning the material and making it theirs, their voice emerges out of the group and they take a step into the world of becoming a compassion fatigue educator. It’s a truly beautiful thing. Every time this moment in the course comes, I am surprised and overcome with how emotional I feel, how proud I am of the trainees. It never gets old, after training nearly 500 Compassion Fatigue Trainers and offering the intro course to thousands of others, I am still super jazzed about it. In fact, it’s getting more and more fun as time passes. I think that’s a pretty good sign of a rewarding job, eh?
What is the reward of your work? What gets you up in the morning, and keeps you going in this weird and wonderful work that you do as a helping professional?