With the differing degrees of illness and health omnipresent, it can sometimes be so hard to remain optimistic when working in a cancer center. Having the ability
to acknowledge and invoke optimism in this environment, however, seems to be one of the top defenses necessary in managing and combating professional compassion fatigue.
They say that one of the qualities of a good therapist is the ability to hold the hope. When the practitioner is no longer able to do so, it may be time for another adventure. On the flip side, as necessary as optimism is in a cancer center, sometimes it is also necessary to create space to acknowledge that which is not always optimistic.
Sometimes people who participate in our therapeutic groups seem to want a break from the unconditional optimism, and are looking for a safe space where they can guilt-free acknowledge thoughts and feelings that might not be so optimistic. There are also just as many people who come to groups looking for that support and inspiration to help them sustain their optimism, and find that hopeful nugget within that will give them the strength to make it through this next phase.
One of the techniques we use to hold this delicate balance is art making and the creative arts, even for those who insist they don’t have a creative bone in their body. The physical act of art making can be a powerful way to explore these complex words, like optimism, making the concept tangible for those who are looking for inspiration, celebration, or a way to express and perhaps work through thoughts when the optimism has run dry. By focusing on the art as the third party, sources of optimism can be explored, as well as that which is creating barriers.
Feelings of optimism may stem from experiencing ownership, empowerment, engagement and personal control, all qualities that are possible to experience while engaging in creativity. Although I am partial to art, I acknowledge it might not be the medium that speaks to everyone; however, I believe that most people can benefit from other creative outlets, such as writing and music. Who hasn’t experienced the power of a quote or different songs to influence your mood?