Education, Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Compassion and the Importance of It

I came across this article on LinkedIn: Compassion at Work: What is It?

We all could have a different definition of compassion, but this is the scenario I came up with to describe its meaning;

“Compassion then, is empathy with action.” Imagine being in a meeting with a colleague and all of a sudden they tear up or make a comment that someone they were very close to just died. Compassion is acknowledging this statement and offering to have lunch together to discuss further. Over lunch, you find out it was their best friend from high school that died. You listen patiently, you suggest that this colleague maybe put their thoughts down on paper…you become a person that cares…

I am a social worker who works as a case manager with older adults. I work in a social services department with 30 other staff who perform various roles from Intake to case management to group facilitators, mental health case manager, transportation, supervisors, etc…We are a team and not just a department. Our ages range from young 20’s to late 60’s, mostly women.

Compassion, empathy, caring are in us already or we would not be in this field. “When leaders model and reinforce values that encourage employees to build closer relationships, workplace empathy will increase. Leaders who demonstrated compassion were more likely to foster employee engagement, motivation, and productivity.”

Now, this makes sense to me. We cannot just go to work and focus on work. We support one another as staff, we learn about each other’s personal lives to the extent we choose to share and we become friends as well as colleagues. To me, this fosters compassion and makes the work environment happier, peaceful, caring. Staff wants to go to work and be at work and when relationships between colleagues are good, the work performance is better. Compassion further flows into relationships with clients and their families.

To me it is win-win!

Thoughts? Examples to share regarding compassion?

Healthcare, Humanity, ICU

The Healing Power of Word…

Hello everybody, my dear friends.

After a thought of of Dr. Frutos del Nogal, who was head of the ICU of my beloved Hospital Universitario Severo Ochoa de Leganés, after the Sedation workshop at the recent #SOMIAMA, today I want to discuss an article from April 2013, in  la Vanguardia that Elena Lorente (De Tots Els Colors) has shared with us: the healing power of  Word (only available in Spanish). Dr. Frutos told me, “Without prejudice to the need for analgesics and sedatives, there is something that is not said: words. The word and the friendly gesture and the comfort of the patients. That reduces the consumption of drugs.”
We are communication in our DNA. We have it so inside, that sometimes we are not aware of the power that has the word in our relations and even to ourselves. To the psychologist Mercé Conangla, “The word can be a source of healing and growth,” and I absolutely agree. There are many pains that may be relieved with drugs, but the emotional pain can not. And we have to make conscious that what often happens to us goes unnoticed. We continue talking about empathy, put the shoes we have opposite, and thanks to the language learning from people. We have to change our language to introduce new situations, re-educate ourselves to educate, and generate the change needed to improve the subjective experience of all. We are starting from the inner dialogue, combating, and changing that negativity and rework our beliefs because our mental speech conditions us. We talk to people, “cut and paste” from our electronic clinic stories and it makes us lose the key to the process of getting sick: the biography of the patient. And for that, you previously had to stop, giving space to generate awareness and listen. Many times we hear things that we like, sometimes quite the opposite. But so, listening and understanding, that´s the way we are changing our reality and the reality of the ICU’s. A positive change, a step forward.By Gabi Heras, ICU Physician

*Re-posted with permission from Gabi Heras, Intensive Care Physician of:*
Education, Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

A Message of Wisdom

Can any of us truly define happiness and contentment? Is it easier to discuss potential and wishes? What about joy, delight or accomplishment? As professionals and as humans, it is important to identify our deepest wishes and desires and to work from a place of compassion with our clients and with those we love and care about.

Below is verse taken from, The Life of Shabkar:

Relaxed, at ease in that very state of freedom,
I arrive at the immense sky-realm
That is an unconditional absolute state.
When it is left to itself, as a vast sky
Utterly transparent and serene,
The poisonous, painful bindings that are mental constructs
Loosen by themselves.
When I remain in this state
Which is like a transparent, empty sky,
I experience joy beyond words, thought or expression.

Looking on with the eyes of a wisdom
That is more immense than the all-encompassing sky,
The phenomena of samsara and nirvana
Become delightful spectacles.
Within that brilliant continuum,
There is no need for effort,
Everything occurs by itself,
Completely at ease, very naturally:
Complete contentment!

Compassion towards sentient beings
Once my mothers, surges up from deep within me-
These aren’t just empty words:
Now I’ll work to benefit others!

What do the above words mean to you? Are you inspired to do your best, see, accept and strive to be the best professional, the best human, an active participant in society on a regular basis?

Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW

*First posted at:

Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Social Justice

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

Three of my mentors are women in history who practice the values of social justice by the programs they have advocated for, initiated and created; Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. They also all happen to have been, or are, current First Ladies. These women to me exemplify what women today can be and do. The fact that they use/used their status and their title for the betterment of society is amazing and happens to be values of the social work profession as well.

Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady, dedicated her life to human, civil and international rights. She joined the Women’s City Club, where they focused on child labor laws and worker’s compensation; She joined the League of Women Voters and helped establish the legislative program for this organization; She toured the country during the Great Depression and acted as her “husband’s ears” as he was in a wheelchair and unable to do so; She learned about the widespread hunger and sorrow and brought many issues to then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) because she wanted him to be more aware of everything that was happening throughout the country.

The National Youth Administration which was created focused on work projects, vocational training, apprenticeship training, educational/nutritional camps for women, and student aid. She encouraged governmental support for art by supporting the establishment of the Federal Writers Project (FWP), Federal Theater Project (FTP), and Federal Art Project (FAP). I would say she is most known for reaching out to the minorities and the poor. She fought for civil rights and human rights during World War II. She visited the troops overseas. In 1945, she joined the NAACP and increased her involvement in the civil rights movement. Eleanor was against violence. She worked with Thurgood Marshall and helped with housing and community planning for African Americans. She supported the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and fought against the discrimination and segregation of public schools.

Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, played a role in advocating for the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) and the Foster Care Independence Act (FCIA). SCHIP program administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services provided matching funds to states for health insurance to families with uninsured children, where the families had incomes that were considered modest, but too high to qualify for Medicaid. The Adoption and Safe Families Act was enacted in an attempt to correct problems that were inherent in the foster care system that deterred the adoption of children with special needs. The Foster Care and Independence Act aims to assist youth aging out of foster care in the United States in obtaining and maintaining independent living skills.

Michelle Obama, current First Lady, fashion icon and role model for women and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, healthy eating and exercise. While at Princeton, she was involved with the Third World Center, an academic and cultural group that supported minority students, running their day care center which included after-school tutoring. In 1993, she was the Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a non-profit organization encouraging young people to work on social issues in non-profit groups and government agencies.

She currently advocates on behalf of military families, helping working women balance career and family, encourages national service, and promotes the arts and arts education. Let’s Move! was announced on February 9, 2010 in order to hopefully reverse the trend of childhood obesity. She has been involved with the planting of the White House Kitchen Garden (an organic garden). She has installed bee hives on the South Lawn of the White House. She has been a fierce advocate of LGBT rights.

These three women promoted, advocated, created and spoke/speak openly about issues that were/are near and dear to them and fit the times. Being positive and influential role models for young girls and women is important for all of society to see. These three further define social justice by their acts, their behavior and their causes. Social justice is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, the teaching and implementation of values, basic human rights, dignity of every human being, participation in change, and a sense of personal responsibility.

What more can one ask for?

*First posted at:

Education, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

A Humanitarian Event with a Purpose

Take a look at this link and read about an upcoming event with a focus on compassion, empathy, good deeds, making a difference…..

Humanity, News, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

A Message…..

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

I am an active participant on LinkedIn and Twitter and am coming across many comments concerning the horrific events that ocurred on Friday in both Connecticut, USA and in China. All those beautiful, innocent, young children murdered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a sense because adults with mental health issues, negative internal dialogue and feelings of anger and low self-worth chose to use weapons to express their feelings.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families, especially the parents of the murdered children. I cannot imagine the depth of their pain or grief. Every time I think of these two events, I tear up as I am a parent myself and can imagine how I would be feeling-rage, anger, grief that knows no bounds, shock, a hole in my heart….. a loss so great. I honestly do not know what my reaction would be and hope to never know.

This holiday season, I hope that all of society can put the families of those that were murdered in our hearts, prayers and send positive thoughts their way. This will be a difficult journey for all of them and as it is at holiday time, this will only make the situation more difficult.

Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

The Holidays: A Difficult Time of Year for Many

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

The holidays bring up warm memories to some and for others makes them want to hide for the next 6 weeks.

I have fond memories of childhood holiday gatherings with my family; the food, the baking, the decorating, buying gifts, wrapping the gifts, the general holiday spirit that is everywhere at this time of year.

Now, as an adult, and for the fact I work with older adults, those memories are still there, the smell of sugar cookies baking will bring me back to my childhood…..but I can see for some of my clients that this time of year is difficult.

The memories are not so pleasant. The next 6 weeks will be long for them.

As a helping professional, part of my role is to ease this discomfort if I can for my clients. Make an extra phone call, spend a few more minutes talking with a client, acknowledge that this time of year can be difficult.

I can be resourceful and find out where some events are taking place in the city and share it with those that might be interested.

Others choose to stay home and do not want to socialize and I have to accept that, but that does not mean I cannot call them to say hello and see how they are managing.

The holiday spirit is inside each one of us and is something that can be shared.