We had several goals in mind when teaching this activity.
Activity and Results
We designed our activity to stress the vital importance of self-care in our field. We also prioritized images in the presentation to help facilitate discussion. We took into consideration who the students were and that they were ending the end of their semester. We presented this activity in the final class of our course. We sent the students a link to a resource which was a self-care questionnaire (IFM Self-Care Questionnaire) so they could have some familiarity with the topic the week before we presented. The students were advised to complete the questionnaire but did not need to submit it or share their results in the class if they weren’t comfortable. The day of our class, we initially opened the discussion of what is self-care with the entire class (Image 1) and prioritized conducting a poll to get a sense of what some students utilize for self-care strategies (Image 2). After some time, we transitioned to break out groups (Image 3) in order to facilitate more nuanced discussions on the topic with guided questions. After fifteen to twenty minutes, the break out groups ended and we provided space for each group to present what they discussed. We concluded the session by discussing vicarious trauma, institutional trauma, and sharing suggestions around destigmatizing the need to seek professional help for those in the helping profession (Image 4). Lastly, we recommended the book “Trauma Stewardship” by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and other resources.
Students were engaged in the discussion and a few shared how thankful they were that we were making space in our class to discuss this topic. A number of students were able to share their current self-care activities as well as activities they would like to adopt. Other students shared that they felt their self-care routine was lacking given their busy schedules but that they wanted to carve out more time to incorporate this into their current routines.
Working as a team made the work enjoyable and more manageable. Our recommendation for folks who want to do something like this is to find a topic you’re curious about or want to explore further and go for it! If you have worries or need support, finding a co-collaborator is a great way to also put something together that you’re proud of. We also recommend checking in with your students after the presentation to see what resonated with them and what, if anything, they would do differently if they wanted to present themselves or wanted their professors to do another presentation on the same subject matter.
Image 1: Adobe Connect classroom displaying our title slide “Dimensions of Self-Care: Clinical Issues for Social Workers” with both authors' names listed below. Note: The names in the chat are those of the authors and a friend who agreed to help out with taking a screengrab; no student names are shown. Adobe Product screenshots reprinted with permission from Adobe.
Image 1 Alt-Text: In this image, the presenters are featured in a small Video pod on the far left side, with an Attendees pod below that. The top center shows the PowerPoint slide which features the topic for the session and the names of the presenters. Below the PowerPoint slide is the Chat Pod in which we are greeting each other and students as they enter the room at the beginning of the session. The chat comments say: “Hi all!” “Hi Everyone, Welcome,” “Hi guys,” and “How is everyone doing today?” To the right is a presenter chat pod, which is only visible to presenters and which is used to keep presenters on track during the session.
Image 2: Adobe Connect classroom displaying our poll question: “Why is self-care important and relevant to our work?”. Note: The names in the chat are those of the authors and a friend who agreed to help out with taking a screengrab; no student names are shown. Adobe Product screenshots reprinted with permission from Adobe.
Image 2 Alt-Text: In the top center, this image shows a Poll Question with responses from attendees. The question says “Why is self-care important and relevant to our work?” There are four sample responses shown: “Self Care helps to keep us grounded; To help reduce the possibility of burnout; Because it helps keep us balanced to be able to continue to do our work effectively; and It’s a skill we and our clients need to learn to be healthy.” The presenters are featured in a small video pod on the far left side, with an Attendees pod below that. Below the Poll responses is a Chat pod with some of the poll responses also typed into the chat, and to the right is a Slide displaying the poll question. To the far right is the Presenter-only area, which students cannot see.
Image 3: Adobe Connect classroom displaying our layout and guided questions for the breakout groups, including “How do you utilize self-care in your practice and personal life? How do you see the issue of burnout being addressed in your agencies?”. Note: The names in the chat are those of the authors and a friend who agreed to help out with taking a screengrab; no student names are shown. Adobe Product screenshots reprinted with permission from Adobe.
Image 3 Alt-Text: This image shows a Breakout Group activity layout. At the far left is the Attendees pod that stretches from top to bottom of the image. The presenters are featured to the right of the Attendees pod; this is where students in breakout groups would be able to see each other. To the right of the presenters is an example of a breakout room Notes pod depicting suggested roles for students. It says “Roles” at the top, followed by “Facilitator: Reporter: Scribe:” with space for the group to type the names of the students who will facilitate the discussion, who will take notes and who will report back after returning to the class. The questions for discussion in the breakout room are shown to the far right on a slide that says “Self-care discussion (Breakout Groups)” at the top. Below that is a decorative image of a human body, in orange and white, with these questions next to it: “How do you utilize self-care in your practice or personal life?” “How do you see the issue of burnout being addressed (or not) in your agences?” “How can institutional trauma be addressed in your organizations/agencies?” and “What are some of the unique challenges that social workers face in the field? How would you address them?” Below the breakout room and slide is a Chat pod with one chat that says “Breakout group will start soon.” To the far right is the Presenter-only area, which students cannot see; it contains a blank Presenter Chat pod.
Image 4: Adobe Connect classroom showing our continued lecture, with a slide stating: “Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma are unintended consequences of being a helper.” Note: The names in the chat are those of the authors and a friend who agreed to help out with taking a screengrab; no student names are shown. Adobe Product screenshots reprinted with permission from Adobe.
Image 4 Alt-Text: This is a screengrab of an Adobe Connect classroom. On the far left, there is a narrow slide pod with a narrow Attendees pod below. The slide says “Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma are unintended consequences of being a helper.” In the top center of the image there is a Video pod that shows both instructors (this chapter's authors). Below the Video pod is a Chat pod where all attendees are able to share thoughts or respond to questions. The chats say: “Reading a good book;” “Lighting candles;” “Going for a walk;” “Going hiking;” “Enjoying a nice meal;” and “Reading.” To the right of the Chat pod is a stage lights timer to help us keep time for each activity. To the far right is the Presenter-only area, which students cannot see; it contains a Presenter Chat pod, with chats that say “We have 20 minutes more for this section” and “Great, I’ll keep track.”
Allison Ross’ Acknowledgements: To my family, as always, thank you for your continued love and support. To Ana Grullon, co-author, thank you for agreeing to work on this project with me, your brilliance and input helped to make this finished product possible. Thank you Matthea Marquart for your support and guidance in the Online Education platform.
Ana’s Acknowledgements: To Galia, Nick, and all my loved ones: thank you for continually supporting my ability to be a whole person. Not just a wife or a mom but also a social worker and an educator. Your patience and support is a gift. To my co-author Allison Ross: thank you for the privilege of working alongside you both at Sanctuary for Families and at Columbia. Your mentorship and friendship are a constant inspiration to me.
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