Different professions present different physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychological challenges. A new report from a group of researchers in Germany looked specifically at the challenges faced by classroom teachers. Among teachers, one of the top health concerns is mental health, specifically involving career-related psychological and social challenges. The German study involved developing a short manual and asking teachers participate in 90-minute sessions once a month for a year, using both the manual and group discussions. In the case of teachers, this particular program addressed five different areas. Firstly, the teacher’s sense of authenticity, or relationship with his or her self; because teaching is such a personal yet public profession, teachers often experience a sense of incongruence between who they are and the ‘role’ they must play when in charge of their students. Secondly, the training worked on helping teachers handle the relationships they built with their students in a psychologically healthy way; this involves balancing compassion with discipline and building resilience when students respond negatively or are difficult to reach.
Third was competence in handling relationships with parents, who vary from indifference on one end to involvement to the point of burden on the other. Fourth was strengthening collegiality and social support among the staff, most of whom take their jobs very seriously and may become competitive or defensive of their own methods rather than open to new approaches from coworkers with differing backgrounds. Fifth and finally, the teachers learned about how individuals experience stress, both physically and emotionally; they were trained in recognizing signs of stress in themselves and relaxation techniques designed to help mitigate stress.
At the end of the year, teachers who had participated in more than five of the sessions exhibited less depression and a greater sense of overall trust than those teachers who did not participate, or who only attended a few sessions. This is just one example of meeting the mental health needs of those practicing a specific profession. It is not uncommon for people in high-stress jobs of all varieties to seek and find a therapist to help them adjust to the levels of performance that are required of them.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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