Pictured: Gemma Baker, Shane O’Connor, Grainne O’Neill and Therese O’Driscoll
On a late September, autumnal day, a small number of Comhlamh Debriefers met for a “Caring for the Carers” course. Gemma Baker recaps the day.
It was an opportunity to spend some time reflecting on our role as Debriefers to Returned Development Workers, to share our experiences, challenges and to ensure we focus on our own self-care under the supervision of Therese O’Driscoll, an accredited Psychotherapist from Sligo.
Our meeting was in the bright rooftop Frere room in Comhlamh’s Parliament street offices. We sat in a cosy circle, a beautifully scented candle placed centrally kept us focused and relaxed. I warmed to Therese, immediately, a lovely, open-minded, earthy lady, soothing, serene with a twist of fun!
We discussed openly our challenges as a debriefer, how the role can mostly impacts us positively but there can be the negatives too, leading to projection, and sometimes stress. We questioned our responsiblity with confidentiality, the “what if” I had done it this way that sometimes arose through self-reflection. Therese spoke of the tools we can can use to deal with stress, focussing on self-care and supervision of our work practices.
Our discussions bonded us, relaxed us, we felt at one, similar experiences, we felt comfortable together…then Therese asked us to bend and twist our bodies in a way that wasn’t normal to us…..I watched another participant dance beautifully to a beat only she could hear…. I pushed myself against the wall, rubbing myself up and down like a grizzly bear with an itch, tried a ballerina pose, I watched others doing similar freeing moves, possibly more gracefully than me…. we were becoming more and more relaxed!
We continued to open up, chat and giggle. With this new bond we have created, we decided to set up a new Comhlamh group, we will meet quarterly to discuss the issues and challenges we face in our roles, we will help each other through unity. It will be a safe space for reflection on past experiences and a time to help us to look to our “emerging future” as debriefers