Self-Awareness and Self-Care in Practice
Tim started to volunteer as peer supporter to months ago and while he is enjoying the experience he sometimes he doubts his capacity to help others. He has been working with Robert since he started, and as Tim’s own level of expectation grows he feels that he needs to see Robert make progress to be sure he is a good peer supporter.
Tim’s father abandoned him and his mother when he was only 5 years old. Since then, memories of abuse have started to appear in his mind, mixing fact and fiction. Tim is not sure if they really happened and he’d rather prefer to think that they are only figments of his imagination.
At a peer support session, Robert looked more downcast than in previous sessions. Tim immediately felt disappointed, and when he asked him what was new, Robert commented, in a very general way that he had broken up with his girlfriend. He had lost control and insulted her in public. He had tried to call since then but she refused to answer the phone.
This made Tim feel very angry and he accused Robert of being an aggressor and manipulated. He advised that the best thing he could do was to stop calling his girlfriend and leave her alone. He then stopped the meeting.
Consider how both Robert and Tim felt after the meeting ended. It islikely that Robert is confused and wondering what happened. Tim may also be feeling confused about his reaction and probably is feeling that he had done badly for himself and Robert. Tim realises that he identified with Robert’s girlfriend and that resulted in him becoming angry and unable to communicate with Robert.
By trying to ignore or avoid an important aspect of his experiences and wellbeing Tim thought that he had it under control. However this shows that he needs to acknowledge these experiences and feelings, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable, and work on how to respond better to certain situations.
Reacting in this way will further damage his confidence in his ability as a peer supporter which is detrimental to his recovery and wellbeing and not good for the people he is supporting.
It would be more appropriate for Tim to have asked Robert what had made him lose control and to establish a list of proper answers to similar situations. Robert would feel safe and more able to take decisions that would not endanger his relationships.