Posted by Susan Keays

JF&CS In-Home Services staff work with youth and their families, typically expending copious amounts of energy coaching, teaching, sitting on the floor, running around houses, driving long distances, and mediating complex situations with many providers. The work is definitely rewarding but one major challenge for staff is finding the time for self-care. While obtaining bachelors and masters level degrees in human services we are taught that we cannot be a resource for others if we are exhausted. This is a particularly poignant topic for our In-Home Services team.

As a result, I invited Marjie Sokoll, Director of Spirituality and Aging, to lead a Healing Circle tailored for our team. Marjie has been leading monthly staff Healing Circles for more than 16 years.These Healing Circles follow a simple format that creates space for self-reflection and contemplation utilizing various types of mindful meditation, soothing music, contemplative readings, and prayers for healing. It's an opportunity for self-care that can strengthen our staff as we care for others.

For our Healing Circle, Marjie arrived equipped with excellent and resourceful packets of information specifically connected to the work of the In-Home Services team and brought her colleague, Sue Spielman, Manager, Friendly Visitor Program and Caring Communities Resource Network. They were both gracious enough to share their time, reinforce what we know about meditation and breathing, and teach us about new resources, books, and websites for self-care. As staff we learned new tools for ourselves but also how those tools and practices can be brought into our work with children and their families.

I found that our time together helped me reflect on the important work we are doing and the need to take a moment to process the amazing impact our team has on our clients. To have this type of resource within our agency is a wonderful gift.

Susan Keays, LICSW is the Division Director for Services for Children & Adolescents. She has a passion for and expertise in program development, personnel management, and clinical oversight. Susan's expertise is in child and adolescent mental health and social work, having trained at Children's Hospital. Susan received her undergraduate degree in psychology and Latin American studies from Boston College. She returned to her alma mater for her MSW with concentration in health and mental health. Susan has held child program management positions at South Shore Mental Health and Riverside Community Care. Before arriving to JF&CS, Susan was at Tenet Healthcare as the Director of Evaluation and Referral for their three Massachusetts hospitals and Clinical Director for outpatient services. She is also an adjunct faculty at Boston College School of Social Work.