Editor's Note: Caring for Our Clients … and Ourselves
Volume 45 Issue 4
By John E. Desrochers
December is the height of the holiday season. As we move from Thanksgiving through to New Year's Day, there will be parties, shopping, and festivity. Most of us enjoy this time of year, even as we cope with the stress that goes with all this additional activity. For some, however, the season will bring increased family conflict, sadness, and the keenly felt pain of those left out of the merrymaking. As school psychologists, we are aware of all this and are not immune to feeling additional stress ourselves as a result. Our jobs become more stressful around this time, too, with most of us seeing an increase in student anxiety and an uptick in referrals. How do we handle all of this stress—the excitement of the season and the suffering of our clients—at the same time?
I think it's important to remember what the holiday season is all about: making an intentional effort to love and express both material and spiritual generosity to family, friends, and those in need. This includes our clients. It also includes ourselves.
I am delighted this month to publish two articles that I think relate directly to these ideas. On the front page, you will find Part I of an important article by Paula Gil Lopez about the ethical imperative for self-care among school psychologists. It will be followed up next month with the second part, which will talk about how her graduate program works to actively teach self-care to its students. I have known Paula for years and have taught in her program, and I can tell you that she is someone who walks the walk on these issues.
The other article that addresses some of these ideas is William Bentley's “How Is Your Bedside Manner?” found on page 4. Bill reminds us of the power of genuine concern, warmth, and compassion that is needed in order to care for our clients. I can add that, in my experience, to the extent that we are able to genuinely care for our clients, we seem to also somehow take care of ourselves. I always feel best about my work when I am able to make genuine contact with a student or parent, even if we are still struggling with their problems.
The rest of this issue features two articles on legal issues, an article on strategies for building capacity for behavior supports, and additional installments in several of our ongoing series: Early Career Spotlight, BCBA, Boston's Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model, DSM-5 and School Psychology, and the upcoming convention in San Antonio. Of course, we also have our regular lineup of columns and much more.
As we get ready to enter the new year, let's resolve to care for our clients, ourselves, and our world. And have a very happy holiday season, everyone!
—John E. Desrochers