Welcome to our guest blog page where passion and inspiration coincide. Here Child Life Specialists have the opportunity to share their love for writing with their peers.
If you or anyone you know has a passion for writing and would be interested in being one of our guest bloggers, please email Kristin Brown, FACLP Website Coordinator at email@example.com
SPECIAL COVID-19 BLOG POST
We would like to introduce…
Kristin Brown is a Certified Child Life Specialist at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. She has been serving the patients and families coming through the Pediatric Sedation Center for 4 years now and loves being a part of her patients going from “I can’t do this,” to “I did it!!”
Kristin is also FACLP’s Social Media Content and Website Development Coordinator.
COVID-19 : A Letter to My Fellow Child Life Specialists
“The One Where It’s Okay to Feel”
In a recent webinar, “Psychological First Aid: Managing Emotional Challenges in This Unprecedented Time,” presented by The Beryl Institute, Psychotherapist and LCSW, M.J. Murray Vachon utilized a visual to explain mental wellness in healthcare professionals, that was brilliant but also stopped me in me in my child life tracks. She showed a river with “rigidity” on one side and “chaos” on the other. Floating in the middle of the river were the traits: flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized, and stable, with the explanation that that these characteristics integrating in the middle of rigidity and chaos leads towards a developmental of mental wellness. In a profession where our mental wellness is vital to our work, I loved this explanation, but truth be told, I had to force myself to keep listening.
As a certified child life specialist (CCLS) for over 7 years, I see the words “flexible” and “adaptive” and it’s like part of the rainbow description of our role. These importance of possessing these characteristics are ingrained in us in our education, that we must be flexible and able to adapt our interventions for patients and families at any given moment. We have to be able to switch teaching tools if a patient loses interest, we have to be ready to toss the bubbles and go with the flow of the toddler who is directing her distraction play by exploring every item in our bag. That’s normal for us. We’re used to that normal and can go with the flow when it comes to our patients and families; we even teach them coping techniques so they can be more flexible with their treatment plans. That’s our norm that we love and are passionate about. But in case anyone missed the memo, life is not normal right now, not even close.
Normal went out the window when COVID-19 came knocking on our playroom doors. The world as a whole is in crisis mode. Our child life world is in crisis mode. As the Social Media Development Coordinator for Florida Association of Child Life Professionals (FACLP), I can’t escape the constant reminders of this new life we’re living. Every ding of my phone is another CCLS or child life student recognizing and experiencing their sense of groundedness as completely gone, taken away from them. Every day we use a variety of techniques to normalize the hospital environment or healthcare experience for others, but how do we normalize this pandemic among our own profession at the same time?
Playroom doors across the country are locked, volunteers, students, and interns have been sent home indefinitely, CCLS’s are providing patient care from their homes via technology, and there are many more CCLS’s on edge every day with worry about the future of their beloved profession. And as the individuals who are most often called upon to celebrate others, to spread joy and fun for patients and staff during rough patches, I’m here to say this is not just another rough patch. This is a worldwide pandemic, one in which we as human beings are allowed to feel our feelings and emotions, without the constant expectation of being happy and fun. Based on my social media alerts from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Alerts, etc. fun and happy are not the norm right now, and that’s okay. This new normal has left many of us exhausted, mentally and physically. This new normal is one where every aspect of life feels as if it’s taking so much more effort and energy. It feels that way, because it is that way.
We are CCLS’s who feel uncertainty about the future and security of our job. We are students who feel a sense of grief over not getting to finish internships, say goodbye to patients and staff, and loss of our plans for certification. We are CCLS’s sent home, feeling angry, guilty, and helpless for our teammates and patients in the hospital. We are CCLS’s still working the “front lines” feeling guilty for being able to do our jobs while so many others cant. We are all human beings who have lost our normalcy, our routines, and our comfort. And for many of us, we are human beings who are simply afraid. Maybe for ourselves, our coworkers, family members, and even strangers fighting this battle. And if just reading that wears you out, I feel you. I see you and I want to be a person to tell you that it’s okay to feel those feelings.
Amidst all of the great COVID resources that have come out of amazing collaborations, funny memes, self-care ideas and so on- it’s okay to be in those feelings right now. This is uncharted territory for us. But just as we would validate them and tell a patient that it’s okay to feel how they do at any given moment, we would also reassure them that they aren’t in it alone, we’ve got their back. And that’s what I hope you take away from reading this. No matter where you are physically in the world, your child life journey, or simply your chapter of life, you are not alone. I do believe we’ll come out a stronger profession on the other side of this experience. But right now, it’s okay to just be- wherever you are, however you feel…we’re in this together.