How to tap into a network that can help you solve problems.

“By learning about what others have done to problem-solve or to address their [helping] challenges, it can help sharpen your own [helping] skills.” – Adriana S. Miu

Everybody needs a “safe space” and people that they feel they can safely share experiences and things that did not go well. This can be a single person or a group of people. It can be a friend or family member, or it can be someone you work with who provides a “safe space.” Sometimes you just need to “vent” (get it off your chest) your anger or frustration first to deal with the emotions. Once the emotions are relieved, you can move on to solving the problems.

  • Who to ask for ideas – creating a network of support for yourself.
    • Supervisors – it is part of their job to help you meet these challenges. Research shows that supervisor support is also the best coping strategy, much better than co-worker support, which is also helpful.
    • Co-workers – their experience gives them insights and strategies that have worked.
    • The family of those you support – they know the individual from an early age and can sometimes give you insights into the person’s actions and history.
    • The individual you support – they can often tell you what does and does not work for them.
  • How to create safe spaces for getting help from formal or informal co-worker groups
    • Group members have been there for a while; not a lot of turnover in the group.
    • People attend meetings regularly.
    • Find a group size, meeting frequency and format (online, in-person, both online and in person) that works best for you.
    • Members listen, offer useful feedback, and do not make personal criticisms or comments.
    • There are clear agreements about group rules (like complaining about colleagues or clients) and keeping what is said in the group within the group.
    • The focus of the group suits your needs, whether it is open-ended or topic specific.
  • How to ask for ideas, even if you are shy.
    • Figuring out how to describe the problem can help you understand it, and sometimes solve it yourself.
    • Confidentiality is based on the principle of need to know. There is no need to share names or other identifiers in order to get help (unless you are getting advice from the individual, the individual’s family or your supervisor who knows the individual well).