Dr Ewald Crause
Welcome to another edition of PsyTalk, our quarterly bulletin showcasing the work of PsySSA’s Divisions, Standing Committees and Branches. We trust that you will find the content topical and relevant to our profession.
I’ve come to the realization that working in public service is a constant ebb and flow of managing crises. Despite all the planning that we do as officials we are always subject to changes occurring in our communities. Sometimes, despite all that we invest into providing access to psychological services, we do not reach the goals we set ourselves personally, or collectively as strategic priorities.
2018 was supposed to be year where I planned not to work reactively but rather to create systems and structures that could run seamless. One area where I was hoping to make the biggest impact was to reduce the administrative workload placed on staff members working in public service. Initially I planned to have an integrated system up and running in March (i.e., just in time for the new financial year)… then June (i.e., just in time for the second semester)… then September (i.e., just in time for the first formal PMDS review)… and now as I am writing this editorial the system will most definitely be up and running in January (i.e., just in time for the new year). That is, I hope it will be ready in January. So in fact, what I deemed as a key priority for 2018 was kept on the backburner because of very real challenges but now, as is the case with many other goals identified for this year, time has run out. If I were to proceed with an impact report for 2018 to measure my effectiveness based on this indicator… I would indeed be found wanting.
So how do we measure our effectiveness when the goals we set ourselves remain unattained? Or rather, what do we experience when important milestones were not reached? Well I can tell you the first thing I wanted to do… I wanted to shift responsibility to the circumstances faced throughout the year that prevented me from reaching my goals. I repeated a narrative of “was it not for all the trauma referrals, the societal crises, the dealing with violence and pathology cases, the bureaucracy of government… was it not for all these circumstances I would have reached my goals.” But despite all my attempts to shift the blame I did not find any comfort or solace. And then it struck me, being a psychologist means that finding meaning in moments of chaos and disappointment is exactly what this career is all about.
We are probably some of the most resourceful individuals on the planet. We work in the field of raw emotion and seek to find a sparkling moment on which we help clients build a new identity or to seek an alternative to the problem saturated life story that many bring to our practice. We seek to build resilience, overcome adversity, we are the voice of those silenced by adversity, and create an environment of unconditional positive regard for human beings to challenge themselves and face their own demons. From where I sit, it seems to me like we are pretty special people when we work collaboratively on finding solutions to life’s problems.
But here is the challenge; I’ve also come to realize that we embody these qualities more often in practice… but neglect to rely on these same characteristics when we ourselves are faced with adversity or change. When I look back at 2018 I can clearly remember exact moments when a calm approach to seeking solutions to problems could have benefited me much more that the emotional roller-coaster experience I lived. But that’s life, isn’t it? Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, challenges were faced, and unless I am dreaming… I am still in the game. And that my friend is a story I can take into 2019.
Change is also knocking on the door of PsyTALK. In effect this is the last issue of PsySSA’s quarterly bulletin in its current format. But don’t despair… we will be relaunching a new PsyTALK in March 2019. We hope and trust that you will have a wonderful festive season. Travel safely.