Dear DSL, who heals the healers?

Ray Douglas

Monday, 15 July 2019

Many years ago I was introduced to the concept of being a reflexive practitioner by Dr Martin Glynn, one of the UK’s leading academics and social commentators around youth violence.

Reflexive in that one doesn’t just focus on how you impact a pupils', young persons, service users or prisoners life but how the interaction affects you professionally and personally. Which leads me to the question of ‘who heals the healers'?

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Over the last year, I have had the fortunate opportunity to train, consult and build strong partnerships with individuals and teams across the country who have a remit around safeguarding.

That being said, one thing that was apparent is that hardly any of them access clinical supervision despite their roles consisting of complex and difficult decisions around young peoples welfare. Such instances involved cse, grooming, youth violence or in some cases suicide.


With that in mind, how do we ensure that those of us working with vulnerable young people safeguard ourselves from compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and in some case the Stockholm syndrome?


In short, the answer is we have to take the lead. This is especially true since the conversation around being trauma-informed is slowly gathering momentum. However, in the short term, we have to find outlets and ways that lead us to a place of self-care.

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A practitioner shared with me recently that she had to have a child removed from a household and although it was the right thing to do and involved other siblings, she ended up crying in her car for an hour afterwards. As it happens, this practitioner at the time was 6 months pregnant and felt she wasn’t getting the appropriate support.

Whilst it is true that we are all wired differently and our individual self-care methods are different, safeguarding our young people is becoming more complex to deal with.

It is almost certain that all of us supporting young adults with today's problems need support from one another so please check in with another rather than assuming that going home, having dinner and watching Netflix will heal us of the burdens we face.

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About our Community Expert

Raymond Douglas
Community Expert

Raymond Douglas is one of the UK’s leading thinkers and “doers” around working with at-risk pupils and young people. A prolific trainer and curriculum developer he has created numerous intervention programs tackling youth conflict & violence aiming to reduce the number of those at risk of life-threatening behaviour involving guns, gangs, knife crime & extremism.

Ray has been an approved trainer for governmental departments and currently delivers within schools colleges, universities and prisons. Ray has spoken at TEDx and has worked nationally and internationally training & advising schools and local authorities around reducing systemic youth violence.

Today his Minus Violence program reaches over 10,000 young people & pupils per year and 2019 see the release of his first book Gangs Kitchen.

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