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Posts Tagged ‘self-care’

Reducing Staff’s Cumulative Traumatic Impairment

November 23rd, 2010

Given the corrections culture of machismo and bravery, what do you think the response of a staff member would be if you asked them how they are doing being exposed to a critical incident at work?

My 10-year experience of working with correctional workers suggests that the vast majority of the time staff would reply, “I’m fine.” Read more…

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Stopping Correctional Worker Suicide

March 1st, 2010

The corrections field is plagued with the scourge of staff suicide. Recent statistics from New Jersey show that corrections officers commit suicide at over double the rates of police officers and the general population. From 2003 through 2007, for males ages 25-64, per 100,000 the suicide rate for C.O.s was 34.8, for police 15.1, and for the general population 14.0. ( Read more…

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How Do You Train for This?

January 9th, 2010

The C.O. looked tough—what I lightheartedly like to call “the testosterone overload type”—and very professional. I knew he was a veteran who had seen it all during his 13-year corrections career—inmate murders, drug overdoses, beatings, stabbings, and staff assaults. What came out of his mouth though, and the tears that periodically welled up in his eyes, told a story that is rarely voiced.

As I sat listening to this warrior-like officer, I tried putting myself in his place. I ended up flooded with sorrow for the human condition, anger at evil, and a sense of urgency to be of assistance to this individual. Read more…

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Maximize Your Chances to Win!

December 31st, 2009

This is an email sent to me by a former correctional officer, who gave me permission to share it with others. It is very sobering as it raises the issue of responsibility for our own well-being. Read it and remember that you do have choices. If you don’t already, start taking care of your physical, psychological and spiritual needs actively and consistently. Nobody else can do it for you.

The gate slams behind you as you enter the prison. You take a deep breath as you prepare for the day ahead. Let the games begin!

Each day becomes a day of survival spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. The money is good. The job provides “security”(boy, isn’t that a play on words!).

But for the money and security there is a heavy price to pay for many. Their world becomes no different than that of the prisoners—hopeless, worrisome, painful, fearful. Many officers say “I do my eight and skate,” but is that statement really true?

Read more…

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Yet Another Staff Suicide

November 2nd, 2009

It hurts my soul that another exemplary correctional worker killed himself yesterday. His suicide blind-sighted & knocked the wind out of all who knew him.  It hurts that he was all alone in his pain to the end,  tormented by what proved for him to be unbearable heartache & hopelessness, yet he didn’t feel safe to confide in any of his corrections “comrades in arms.”

What do you think drove him to pretend everything was manageable & that he was OK? Read more…

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Sanity Tip–Think Ahead

October 22nd, 2009

Thinking ahead, being proactive instead of reactive, can often save our sanity. Here are some ways to do that.

  • Anticipate problems and take measures ahead of time to reduce or even eliminate their impact.
  • Manage your money wisely to reduce your financial stress. Read more…

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From Shut Down to Alive!

October 15th, 2009

The other day my friend Paul, a corrections professional, told me that he once was a tender-hearted, warm person. “Now,” he mused, “after 16 years in corrections, I feel shut down. If somebody really hassled me I might feel some anger. Otherwise I’m a flat line. I can’t feel much inside, either good or bad. In a way it’s easier not to be getting worked up over things, but I know something’s not right!” He added, “Linda keeps complaining that I’m too distant with her and the kids.”

“What do you think happened?” I asked.

Paul’s answer came after a long pause. “I think I just got too used to keeping myself under control in order to remain professional.” Read more…

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Sanity Tip–Laugh

September 18th, 2009

“A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast.” Groucho Marx
“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” King Solomon (Proverbs 17:22)
Most adults laugh 0 to 50 times a day. Researchers recommend 100 to 400 laughs a day. (Four-year-olds’ level). Read more…

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Sanity Tip–One Day At A Time

August 18th, 2009

Years ago I was told that the only way I was going to get though life sane was to do one day at a time. Being someone who likes to plan ahead and cover the bases for all kinds of possibilities (including worst-case scenarios), I found the statement ONE DAY AT A TIME at first to be naïve, overly simplistic. Yet looking back on my life now I see how putting this principle to practice was the only way I made it when faced with undertakings that intimidated me and made me shake in my boots. Read more…

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Two Sheets of Music

July 16th, 2009

Recently two correctional workers and I were discussing what helps staff stay “sane.” Without hesitation both said, “Correctional workers must be able to switch their mindset from work to home.” One added, “I learned how to live in two very different worlds and still not lose ‘me’.”

Indeed, corrections personnel live in two worlds. These worlds are like two sheets of music. Daily staff is asked to switch from one tune to the other. These two worlds involve very different assumptions about what is expected, how people must behave, and what constitutes a “good day.”

Read more…

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