"Medelye-moegheid" : 'n pastorale benadering
Fourie, Johannes Hermanus Van Schalkwyk
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Pastors, counsellors and supporters often embark upon the field of trauma intervention because they have a passion for people in distress, with a burning desire to assist them. They become involved in people's emotional and physical pain, often without grasping the implications of their choice regarding themselves. These helpers, who listen to the emotional and physical pain of victims with great love and compassion, often absorb very shocking information. As time passes they have to deal with the effects of compassion fatigue (also referred to as secondary trauma or vicarious traumatisation — terms used almost as synonyms in this study), attributing their spiritual sagging to personal incompetence and failure. Fearing stigmatism, they keep these feelings and thoughts to themselves. The danger of this is that they start abusing therapeutic situations in an effort to relieve their own needs in this regard. From the basis-theoretical survey it appears that within the history of the church there are many examples of missionaries, clergymen, Christian physicians and gospel workers who sacrificed all they had to satisfy their calling to be of service - often with negative consequences regarding body, morale, spirit and emotions. The practical theological tradition recognises the necessity for pastoral workers to avail themselves to the pain and distress of others. Even the ministry with regard to calling within the Reformed tradition points to the fact that people with a calling, as it were, repeat the incarnation of Christ in a certain sense when they enter the distress and pain of others. The term, vicarious traumatisation, as synonym for compassion fatigue, thus also has something of a spiritual connotation. In opposition to the mentioned point of departure within the church history regarding the subject of calling, the exegesis of a Scripture such as 1 Kings 19 shows in a very surprising manner how God keeps company with his emotionally wounded servants. What is exceptionally touching in this Scriptural passage is the fact that God took care of His servant in all three aspects of body, spirit and emotion. The manner in which God goes about caring for him, eventually helps Elijah, the hero of Horeb, to understand that it is precisely his weakness and gentleness that makes him suitable to be in God's service. Through this whole process, Elijah's image of God and of the world is transformed to make him realise that Israel's salvation and healing is not dependant of him - on the contrary, he is merely a link within the Godly plan. In this respect the Christian trauma helper can interpret his/her personal recourse to that of Elijah. The meta-theoretical research showed that working in a trauma environment has an immense impact on workers' beliefs, their spiritual lives, their identity, their general view on life as well as their outlook on life. This has the potential to transform a person's inner experience in a negative way and in this respect it often leads to the disruption of the trauma counsellor's basic psychological needs. The fact that trauma counselling also has the potential to harm counsellors physically is apparent in the connection between different emotions such as empathy and the neurophysiology of the trauma counsellor. Further important contributory factors in this regard appear to be unresolved personal trauma, denial of personal needs as well as continuous exposure to the counselling of traumatised children. From this meta-theoretical research clear guidelines are formulated regarding the prevention of compassion fatigue with regard to individuals as well as organisations. The empirical survey makes it apparent that the potential for compassion fatigue is immense for Christian social workers, while the potential for compassion satisfaction is quite low - despite the fact that faith and calling are strong characteristics in this group. This confirms the necessity and need for pastoral guidelines with regard to this occupational group. Finally, within the practice-theoretical section of this study a hermeneutist model is brought under discussion for dealing with individuals as well as groups who are suffering from the affects of compassion fatigue. This model is particularly suitable for groups during a retreat. The model descends in five movements. Firstly the story of need is addressed, then the narrative with a story, followed by the story with a darkened future. The fourth movement is the reconstruction of the story of the past, and finally follows the reconstruction of a future story.
- ETD@PUK