While working with adult and adolescent refugees and immigrants during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, I witnessed many exhausted mental health clinicians and health care workers feeling the effects of the strained medical system. Although mental health workers are trained to care for others’ well being, it can be difficult to apply the same care to ourselves in times of collective trauma.
As a new therapist about to start my career, I realized that I needed to be intentional about practicing a daily self-care routine in order to protect myself from burnout and compassion fatigue.
During my journey of self-care, I used art as a tool along the way. I worked with rebar tie wire bending and manipulating the wire to build a 3D wire sculpture of a head. I chose to work with rebar tie wire because it is a flexible construction wire that is typically used to support new growing plants in the garden. With the wire being sold as a support tool in hardware stores, I used the metaphor to create a new supported version of myself. This inspired me to practice daily acts of self-care and to reflect on the kind of therapist I want to be.
The resulting art piece I created was not only an act of self-care in itself but a guide to how I want to show up in my career.