Tanya* is 31 and married. She works as a Senior Social Worker, a role which revolves around giving help and support to others in need. Facing tremendous challenges and stress at work, she finally decided to seek help for herself.
I’m a Senior Social Worker. I do casework and counselling. I also supervise staff and manage other portfolios.
It took me a while before I decided to go for counselling because I wasn’t sure if I would have the bandwidth.
On the one hand, I felt that I needed support for what I was going through at work. I was facing lots of challenges responding to a supervisee who was very persistent and set in her own ways. She wasn’t open to hearing views from me or other colleagues. Sessions with her would lead to heated debates and personal attacks by her towards me.
But I hesitated to see a counsellor because I wasn’t sure if I would have the emotional capacity to express myself. I thought it would be very tiring talking about my emotions after spending 8 hours or more at work tending to clients’ emotions. I was also afraid that I would not have the time needed for the counselling sessions.
This changed when I thought about how important it was to give myself time. My management was very supportive and initiated the idea of counselling for me as well. They thought it might help me to express myself in an objective and safe environment. So I wrote in to EMCC.
During my sessions, I felt listened to and my therapist, Dawn, gave me the space and time to feel comfortable. What I appreciated the most, is how she kept the sessions light-hearted, which is what I wanted as well since the issues I was going through were so serious and intense! The experience allowed me to expand my perspectives of myself and led me to learn that there are things I can control and things that I can’t.
From my first session with Dawn, I began to reflect on how some things cannot be controlled. For example, if my supervisee chose to behave in a certain way, I can only control the way I respond. It taught me to let go of negativity instead of dwelling on it.
I used to be very caught up with engaging clients beyond working hours because of the nature of their concerns. I also struggled a lot because I had to respond to the challenging supervisee amidst my other work duties.
During our sessions, Dawn and I also talked about personal space and building boundaries. As a result, I’ve been saying “no” more often. Although this might sound negative to some people, saying “no” has helped me to clarify boundaries and value myself.
I no longer work on weekends to “clear work” before Monday. I’ve decided that if I’m given a certain amount of work, it should come with realistic timelines.
Saying ‘no’ tactfully has helped me protect my emotions. I find myself being more relaxed.
I’ve also realised how important personal ties such as family relationships and friendships are. I’ve started spending more time with them. We’ve had more outings, game nights or at times, as simple as a phone call to check in on one another.
As much as work comes in our way, our ties with others need to be preserved and valued. So I focus mostly on my self-care and being fully present physically and emotionally for friends and family.
My biggest takeaway is that I need to be kind to myself and give myself the same love and time I give others.
*not her real name
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