Setting boundaries, not over-empathizing, and not asking for help are keys to vets’ emotional well-being

“The Health professionals are educated and trained not to care for themselves, but to care for others.and preventing emotional discomfort, stress and mental disorders in the veterinary community that not only affect one’s own health and well-being and the quality of work, but is a commitment to the sustainability of the profession.” This psychologist says Tony CalvoPsychologist and Director of the Galatea Foundation, a foundation that works for the mental health of health professionals and with which the Council has collaborated since 2022 within the framework of the Assis programme.

It is within the framework of this collaboration, and it aims to provide veterinarians with competencies and skills to manage their emotions and, therefore, provide self-care tools for their emotional well-being. Diana Barenblit And Natalia Comalrena de SobregrauPsychologists partnering with the Galatea Foundation recently offered a seminar called “Emotional competence and well-being at work”, organized by the Council of Veterinary Colleges of Catalonia.

was one of the participants in the meeting Ariadna Garciasmall animal clinical veterinarian, and what inspired her to sign up is “Sometimes we take on too much emotional baggage from people who come to us for counseling in our work.and we don’t know how to manage it and we end up becoming overwhelmed, emotionally overloaded.” Talking about basic emotions and understanding their functions is one of the first points addressed in the seminar; Subsequently, practitioners proposed how to regulate them through self-regulation and co-regulation (that is, thanks to bonds with others).

Garcia says, “The seminars have helped me recognize feelings I didn’t know how to catalog, and to be aware that one way to move forward in self-care is to be aware of what’s going on with you. How to apply and how to identify.” In this sense, he values ​​very positively the tools that the seminars have provided him, as well as “to prevent things that we cannot control.”

Keep your distance and don’t be too sympathetic

These tools are called emotional self-regulation skills. “In training we talk about empathy, and we put a lot of emphasis on the fact that it is not about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes or in the other person’s shoes, but rather it is about reaching rational and emotional understanding. is about what the other person thinks and feels. The other person depends on his or her own circumstances,” Barenblit and Comalrena de Sobregrau explain. For Establish an empathetic bond between the veterinarian and the client and patient, the physician believes “we’re supposed to do this.” Maintain distance from the client so as not to over-sympathize”; And they do not speak of cold distance, but of “taking perspective to understand the other person’s feelings and being able to accompany and support them, but taking into account their characteristics”. without making their conflict my own,

Another participant, who works in auditing for the food industry, confesses that, sometimes, there are moments of tension when she finds an irregularity. He signed up for seminars looking for tools to deal with it. This is what I learned from peer seminars “The important thing is to keep distance and work from there”, And he explains: “In my case, it happens that I have to face people who do not follow the rules, and they are the ones who are doing something wrong, not me; Now I can understand that they are angry, but not with me, but with the character I played.”

Limits are protection, not prohibition

,Limits control us; They are closely related to prohibition but, in fact, they are a protection: Traffic lights, roof railings or dog leashes are limitations, but they are also safety. Boundaries provide us with security and regulate us emotionally because they allow us to know how far we can go, what we can give to others and what we expect from others,” Barenblit and Comlarena de Sobregrau comment. Now, as the Galatea Foundation colleagues say, putting them together is not so easy: “You have to connect to your needs, and your work, and your emotional capacity, and often we don’t do that for fear of disappointment, fear of rejection. From, out of fear of losing the opportunity…”.

And what they agree on is that we should lose the fear of asking for help, “Sometimes we don’t explain that we need help because we are embarrassed, but we should not care about what others think. “We should think more about what we think and what we think ourselves.” says García. In this sense, for her, “communicating it, the simple act of saying it, expressing it, is already a load. is what you take off your shoulders and take the first step forward.”

For psychologists, one of the most important values ​​of such seminars is to give the possibility to share emotional experiences in a trusted space. “Different people coming from different places, who don’t know each other, end up finding many of the same problems and worries and anxieties, and just because and realizing that they’re not the only one who suffer from the cause, already have therapeutic value”, he insists.

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