Practically Yours: Self-Care Tips for Counsellors – Social Health

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on July 19, 2011 11:38 am

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  “Pooh!” he whispered.  “Yes, Piglet?”  “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.  “I just wanted to be sure of you.””  ~A.A. Milne

It is all about relationships really. A dog sleeps at your feet. A cat circles your leg and purrs. A baby sleeps as it is held. We have relationships with clients and colleagues, family and friends, co-workers and supervisors, ourselves, our jobs, our cars, computers, food, even our phones (lose your cell phone and you will – very quickly – appreciate the depth of your connection). We are relational beings, pure and simple.

In this the final segment of the six part series exploring the links between self-care and good health, I will discuss the tenets of social health. As this post is about relationships, let me begin by saying thank you for your readership thus far. Just as peanut butter needs bread to be a sandwich; writings without readers is just edited journaling.

Not that long ago we had rotary telephones and sent hand written letters in the mail. Now we have multi-million dollar social media websites, Skype TV, and no-limit texting plans. I have often wondered about the essence of our connections as a result. Has the increased means of connection (cell phones, email, Facebook, etc.) brought us closer together or have our relationships become watered down?  Like adding water to the last few drops of ketchup; there is still a bit of flavour, but no real taste. [Are you sensing a food theme?]

Forgiveness; a sense of belonging to a support group or community; touch and/or physical intimacy on a daily basis; selflessness and altruism; these are what Ivker, Anderson, & Trivieri (2000), consider to be “Optimal components of social health,” summarized as “Intimacy with a spouse or partner, relative, or close friend.” In the counselling context, we help our clients improve the quality of their connections and social health. Likewise, it is equally important for counsellors to tend to our own. To this end, “Counselling Connect” is essentially our practice and expression of social health.

A few weeks ago, instead of responding to a friend via email, I sent him a hand written letter. It was only two pages long and my handwriting was a bit sloppy despite using my nicest quill [joke – the pen doth not a writer make]. Later we chatted about the lost art of letter writing and the excitement of receiving a letter in the mail. I learned from that experience that one of the most important parts of connection is the effort made to connect. Simple; effort.

In this morning’s tip from The Self-Care Daily© – my daily email service of self-care tips – I spoke of the importance of our connections. Spend an evening with someone new, call the person you are texting just to hear their voice, chat with your neighbour a little longer, or make a coffee date. Simple; effort.

Let the smiling socialite inside you out to play and love the love you feel in return. I will write you in a couple weeks. Enjoy your summer!

Take good care,

Derrick Shirley.

Ivker, R.S., Anderson, R.A., & Trivieri, L. Jr. (2000). “The self-care guide to holistic medicine: creating optimal health.” Penguin Putnam Inc., New York.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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