Personal support workers care for individuals, assisting them with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as washing, dressing, and eating. They’re a positive, supportive presence and are respectful of space, privacy, and feelings. Working with people in their everyday routines means interacting with them during different emotional states. When you support someone who is feeling frustrated, exhausted, angry, or sad, it’s important to make them feel comfortable sharing that with you. Both negative and positive feelings can be validated by you and help your clients feel even more supported. Read on to learn some of the ways you can do this in a professional way.
What if you Become a Personal Support Worker and Don’t Validate Feelings?
If clients feel invalidated, they may start to feel misunderstood, isolated, or unimportant. They may also feel that their emotions are a burden to you. When working with someone new, a client might feel anxious, as you are someone they are not used to and you’re helping them with very personal things. When you make it clear that it’s ok to express discomfort, it can have a diffusing effect on stress and anxiety. When you become a personal support worker, you can see this in practice as you will need to establish trust as a priority with clients.
Daniel Wegner’s theory of “ironic processes” tells us that the more we try to suppress thoughts, the more present they become in our minds. In the same way, if a client feels they should not have certain negative emotions, they will be harder to avoid. By letting clients be honest with you, they are able to process their feelings.
Stay Present in your work after a PSW Training Program
Sitting with difficult feelings or negative emotions is not easy, so many people will multitask or half-listen when other people express these things. As a supportive person in a client’s life, you can give them the validation they may need by accepting their words and not avoiding tough messages. Listening with your full attention can make a world of difference to a person you are supporting.
Sometimes people worry about saying the right thing when supporting – but in your work, you don’t always need to respond. Paying total attention to your clients in a non-judgemental manner offers them safety. Simply being physically present when someone is experiencing pain or frustration with ADLs can make them feel seen and validated in their experience.
Use the Information you have about Clients to Understand Them
As you may know from a PSW training program, you could assist people in your career who have barriers due to aging, ability, or illness. From what you know about their personal barriers, you can often gain insight into why they may react or feel certain ways. For example, if a client is frustrated while putting on a shirt in a new way, you may want to validate their frustration by saying something like, “Given that this is a new technique for something you’ve been doing all your life, I completely understand why it would be frustrating.”
This normalizes the way they feel and lets them know there is nothing wrong with their emotions. Normalizing their feelings by acknowledging that other people would be upset in the same situation can also be very validating. Instead of feeling like they need to hide frustration, they can be reminded that it’s a normal human reaction to something that almost anyone would find difficult.
Are you interested in taking a personal support worker course?
Contact KLC College for more information!