’This book adopts the definition of compassion as ‘a sensitivity to suffering in self and others with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it’’
Title of book: Effective Self-Care and Resilience in Clinical Practice
Author: Sarah Parry
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Reviewer: Margot Lindsay, Associate Staff, Division of Psychiatry,University College London
What was it like?
The author has tried to learn more about compassion and understand how it protects and restores wellbeing, as someone who works closely with people experiencing distress she recognizes the mutuality and dynamic nature of compassion in working practice.
What were the highlights?
This book adopts the definition of compassion as ‘a sensitivity to suffering in self and others with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it’. We have noticed ‘compassion’ become something of a ‘buzz word’ over recent years, and with this comes a danger of attempting to commodify or pathologise it.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
The author describes modelling imperfection and developing the imperfect self. Compassion is not a one-size-fits-all concept, nor can it prevent things from happening that may cause us distress or difficulty. However, it can help us to process and accept those experiences and emotions, and to take responsibility for how we do this. Self-compassion is not something that we have or do not have; nor is it something ‘wrong’ with us if we are struggling to engage with it. As we have discussed, there are numerous barriers to adopting self-compassionate stance, and many of these are outside our control or choosing. Worksheets offer some practical tips and guidance as to how we can begin to introduce a compassionate outlook and self-kindness into our day-to-day life experiences.
Who should read it?
The concept of self-compassion is particularly important for health and social care practitioners to implement due to the evidenced link between self-compassion and positive wellbeing. In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience — our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror. The author often reaches the conclusion with colleagues and students in discussions around the possibility of cultivating and nurturing compassion is that there must be a shared willingness and trust within a pairing, small community or group of people in order for compassion to be present and accepted, which can encourage self-compassion to grow. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognise our shared humanity. If we can find the courage to acknowledge our imperfections with kindness and understanding, and accept ourselves as good enough, then our lives, and the lives of those around us, will be better for it.