Professional Issues Ethics Risk Management and Self Care

There are at least two sides to every story. Much of this book is about the sufferers and survivors of PTSD. But sitting across from the traumatized are the professionals, clinicians, and therapists who hear their stories, bear witness to their pain, and attempt to assist them in their journeys back from fear and the persistence of painful memories. Whether a client or patient is suffering from the afflictions of a mental disorder, a subclinical syndrome, or a "problem in living," a la Thomas Szasz (1974), the mental health professional working with them is being asked by the patient, society, their profession, and by him- or herself a basic question, can you help this person? I remember when I told some friends of mine that I was going to become a psychologist and go to graduate school. Although I am embarrassed to admit this, some of them reacted with a question of their own, who are you to think you can help people? This question was not so much about whether I thought I had all the answers but, rather, about whether I was healthy enough myself to help those struggling with their own mental health. This is a fair question and one that must be asked and answered by all clinicians. The issue of clinician mental health is critical in dealing with trauma survivors. This is not just clinical lore; research has substantiated the potential risk facing trauma clinicians. Fortunately, the mental health field has made attempts to face these issues in more general ways through addressing and establishing ethical guidelines designed to maintain the integrity of the profession, professional, and patient alike and through more specific explorations of clinician mental health and therapist-related issues that arise in treatment.

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