The Benefits of Caring For Teachers and Therapists
An essential part of the puzzle in supporting children and families is nurturing the well-being of teachers and teachers and those who deliver online speech therapy. And while this is always the case, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more critical than ever.
Whether it is the prolonged quarantining, shifting to long-distance learning and remote therapy, or homeschooling for parents, any of the above have forced us into uncharted territory, which has quickly become the new norm.
In such unusual circumstances, it is no wonder that there is a broad spectrum of emotions that at times are very powerful, and scattered all over the place. Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed is to be expected in our current predicament.
But the problem for teachers and those who deliver online speech therapy goes beyond their ability to cope. They need to be in top emotional form if they hope to assist those within their charge. How can our heroes be effective if they are absorbed in their emotional turmoil? Therefore, it is vital that, for the children’s sake, teachers and therapists be emotionally balanced.
Since they are only human, this emotional balance isn’t possible unless their well-being is supported. And when people are experiencing this well-being, research has shown that such an emotional state is broadly related to myriad benefits, including:
Mental and physical illness
Factors in the physical and social environment
This well-being then carries with it many benefits for their students and families as well. Research has shown that there are specific components of well-being that are particularly important as far as impacting the children:
Creating a sense of feeling balanced and supported
Offering opportunities for growth
Building a community to support through challenging situations
Below are four practices that will help both teachers and therapists, facilitating experiencing more well-being, calm, and connection. As a consequence, the students and their families will be served that much better.
4 Ways Teachers and Therapists Can Self-Nurture
1. Name It
Dan Siegel, a noted neuroscientist and expert in regulation, says that we have to “Name it to tame it.” By acknowledging and giving names to our feelings, it is easier for our nervous systems to return to calm. Journaling can be helpful in this process.
2. Release It
While all of your feelings are both valid and very normal during this time of uncertainty, that doesn’t mean that you need to keep those feelings bottled up. It can be therapeutic to release these emotions. While journaling itself helps to release, taking what you have written, crumpling, ripping it up, or even burning it can be cathartic.
3. Courageously Connect
As many have already noted, our social distancing would be more aptly referred to as physical distancing. Despite lacking each other’s physical presence, we can still profoundly connect to others from afar. The vulnerability can facilitate the most potent benefits of connection, even when that connection is virtual.
Sharing some of your experiences and feelings and stepping out of your comfort zone with another to whom you feel close can be more than just refreshing. According to Dr. Brené Brown, the world-renowned brain researcher, vulnerability is at “the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences,” as vulnerability is the “birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”
4. Practice Love
Practicing love means more than just thinking about it. Close your eyes and visualize your best friend together with you in the room. Now imagine that when you look at your friend’s face, you see tears in your friend’s eyes. If you saw this, you would surely provide some reassuring words and embrace.
Self-compassion is extending the compassion that you have for another to yourself. To more fully experience the many benefits of self-compassion, try the three components Kristin Neff, researcher, and professor at the University of Texas, Austin suggests.
As you place your right hand over your heart and your left hand over your right, name your suffering.
Meditate upon the thought of connecting to others.
Treat yourself with the same kindness you would bestow on a loved one.
The Ripple Effect
When teachers and those who deliver online speech therapy can feel the necessary emotional support, they can give that much more to the children and families they serve. While the long-term ramifications of COVID-19 may appear grim, the well-being experiences of teachers and those who deliver online speech therapy will be a critical factor in building resilience for students and families.
Help Your Students Cope with the Crisis
The response to the COVID-19 Pandemic is unprecedented. Because of our unique role in children’s K-12 education, including online speech therapy, we feel a responsibility to do what we can to assist schools, therapists, and students with this transition to online learning and seclusion. To ensure that our students remain engaged and supported, our therapists are providing complimentary “Support Sessions” to the country’s youth. We are also assisting schools by training their therapists for remote therapy.