Straight up, I love being a Social Worker. I’m an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker who has been working in Mental Health since 2011 and the Community Service Sector since 2007.
Like many health professions, Social Work has high rates of staff turnover and burn out. To reframe this statement, you get to meet lots of amazing clinicians and have plenty of reminders of why self-care and proactively looking after your health is a necessity, not a tokenistic practice.
The Bachelor of Social Work itself exposes you to four years of theory and determinants. It helped cement my love for theory in practice.
I have been fortunate in receiving supervision from multiple disciplines including Social Workers, Mental Health Nurses and Psychologists. They have all played a pivotal role in aiding my love for theory. I know I’m a nerd although I’m totally comfortable with that! My foundational theories for practice include Critical Reflective Practice, Motivational Interviewing, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and the Mind-Body connection.
Our whole body (physical and cognitive) is one big beautiful system intricately linked. So often though, our attention is caught up in the ‘what if’s’ about the future or the worries from the past. When we do this, we are not present or listening to what our bodies are telling us. This is where learning about the mind-body connection through Mindfulness theory comes into play. Dr Craig Hassed work has been particularly influential to me. Specifically, his co-authored book ‘mindful learning’ where they explore the art of attention regulation or paying attention.
I established Gillmartin Health 18 months ago. I predominantly consult out of Middle Island Medical Clinic Warrnambool. The owner’s Dr Ami Thies and Dr Campbell McKellar established the clinic on a proactive model of health. Middle Island Medical Clinic recently celebrated its 2nd anniversary and is well on its way to embedding the model. Watch this space people!!
After getting to know my nerdy ways, Ami and Campbell approached me to establish and deliver a Well-being Supervision Pathway for the staff and contractors at the clinic on the proviso that ‘the ESSENCE of Health by Dr Craig Hassed’ was included in the pathway. I was stoked, this was totally up my alley! I accepted if I could also wiggle in Critical Reflective Practice into the pathway.
After obtaining Dr Hassed’s consent, I have designed the pathway utilising multiple theoretical frameworks (including the ESSENCE of Health Model) and started delivering it. The group work starting in October 2018 is just another way to offer this proactive model of health to the masses!
The ESSENCE of Health Program starting on the 15th of October 2018 at Middle Island Medical Clinic is an eight week preventative health program that utilizes Dr Craig Hassed Seven Pillars of Wellbeing. Sessions will be held on Monday nights between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
The seven Pillars of Wellbeing include:
- Stress Management
The idea being that if we are actively tending to these pillars of health we can maintain our wellness and help prevent illness. The program provides a practical and systemic approach to do this.
As a group we will work through the different pillars and apply theory to practice! My favorite thing! Science is beautiful.
To give you an example, in the first week we explore the concept of Behavior Change (including understanding motivation, SMART goals and the cycle of change), discuss the pillar of Education, introduce basic mindfulness principles and set homework (journaling and readings) for the following week.
It can be difficult implementing change let alone healthy change in our lifestyle. Internal (meaning thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and biological makeup) and external (meaning systems around us like family, employment, finances, environment, friends) factors can affect our mood and subsequent behaviors. The program's style of experiential learning can help us remember this.
My job as the facilitator is not to have all the answers (far from it!) but my commitment is to pull from my clinical background and practice what I preach. I, like everyone else is officially a beautiful work in progress. I have an open mindset (rather than closed) and see myself as a lifelong learner. Therefore, continually reflecting upon my mood and behavior through mind body connection, learning new evidence-based information which sparks my interest and setting behavior change strategies which reflect this is how I want to proactively look after my being. Do I have moments when I sit on the couch, eat chocolate and can’t be bothered? Yes! I’m human. It’s all about balance.
It’s exciting times for Gillmartin Health although I can never predict what opportunities pop up. As long as I continue to show up each day mindfully and utilise my clinical discernment I know I’m doing my profession proud.
Until the next installment.