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Trends in Behavioral Healthcare: Join the Conversation – Embracing Self-Discovery and Renewal

2012 Mid-Atlantic Behavioral Health Conference Highlight: Jacqueline Coleman on Embracing Self-Discovery and Renewal

The Danya Institute is pleased to present this regular series of original articles on trends in the field of behavioral healthcare.  Our latest article is by special guest author Bernadette Cash.

Jacqueline Coleman M.Ed, M.S.M., owner of a personal consulting company, was the concluding speaker at a three-day conference held May 9-11 for behavioral health professionals in Annapolis, Maryland. Coleman addressed the relevance of self-care in both our personal lives as well as in our places of employment.

For times when there is discord in the workplace Coleman posed the question: “Are you working to be a part of the solution in your organization?” Regardless of the position held—whether as a manager, practitioner, counselor, or a clinician—Coleman charged that each has the ability to bring about change and promote healing. If a situation is ever beyond one’s scope, she advised that the help of a change agent, or consulting services, be sought.

It was explained that a crisis in the workplace is really a “crisis of meaning.” As more and more employees have feelings of uncertainty about the future of their organizations and their jobs, Coleman urged managers to understand this mindset and not underestimate the depth of the human need for meaning. It is essential, Coleman emphasized, that leaders and managers see themselves as “stewards of organizational performance” who are ultimately responsible for “helping to mobilize, to focus, to invest, and to renew the collective energy of those they lead.”

But how is this to be done? Coleman recognized the demands of the behavioral healthcare profession and reminded conference attendees to first seek self-care basics for themselves: a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining mental wellness. She referred to Dr. Wayne Dyer, a self-help author and motivational speaker, and his concept of how quantum moments shift one’s awareness that leads to a personal transformation. Quantum moments prompt a change in perspective and values, which is typically different for each gender. Coleman’s self-care advice for women was to “Love who you are in the body you have.” She exhorted men to let go of machismo and know that it is acceptable to ask for help.

Coleman frequently offered words of encouragement and compared our efforts to those of climbers who may linger at the well-known Halfway House at the midpoint of their ascent up the Swiss mountains. “In our quest for self-reflection and self-healing,” she cautioned, “Don’t give up and don’t stop halfway.”

Coleman rounded out her discussion of self-care by referencing Dr. Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist, and her eight universal healing principles that support overall health. She suggested that we not overlook the meaningful role each of the following has in our well-being: a balanced diet; exercise; a sense of humor and having fun; love, touch, and support systems; creative purpose, interests, and hobbies; nature and beauty; and finally, a belief in a higher power. By concluding with a quote from a Hopi elder—“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”—Coleman underscored the importance that, as those who work in care services for others, we must also care for ourselves.

Coleman is the owner and leader of Vision Que! LLC, a consulting practice in Washington, D.C. that specializes in a myriad of systems based approaches to solution finding and high performances for nonprofits and private organizations. Click here to view Jacqueline Coleman’s presentation on YouTube in its entirety.

The Central East ATTC has a free self-care guide for addiction professionals. It is available in print, electronic download or Ipad versions.  In addition to offering strategies for addressing workplace stressors, the booklet addresses self-care topics of nutrition, health promotion, mental wellness, and recovery management. Click here to access this free publication.

Dyer, W. (2010). The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning. Carlsbad: Hay House.

Arrien, A. (n.d.). The Universal Aspects of Healing. [CD]. Sausalito, CA.

Bernadette Cash, based in Illinois, volunteers for nonprofit organizations as a writer and grant researcher.