Despite Self Care remaining lacking from Public Policy there is a growing body of evidence and emerging studies being undertaken by research institutions into how Self Care practices form a vital part of Professional Development, particularly for practitioners in high stress environments such as the law, social work and workplace harassment investigators.
Summary of Research Note Compiled by the University of Kentucky College of Social Work.
Study of Self are Practices for those employed in Public Defense.
What We Know
Veritably working in public defense can be challenging. Research suggests that individuals working in public defense, face a host of inimical employment challenges, including poor public perceptions of their work, inordinately high caseloads, and relatively inadequate wages, among other adverse conditions.
These conditions can lead to high rates of compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and professional burnout. These factors can also contribute to the quality of legal services afforded to clients. Though there is evidence that Self Care can assuage some of these consequences, little is known about the Self Care practices of individuals (eg attorneys, social workers, investigators etc) employed in public defender contexts.
Researchers of the University of Kentucky Self Care Lab, in collaboration with the National Association of Public Defense, conducted a national study to examine Self Care practices of those employed in Public Defense. This study focused on five domains of Professional Self Care.
Findings suggest that participants engage in moderate amounts of Self Care. Results illustrate group differences in the practice of Self Care. Given how Self Care, or lack thereof can affect access to justice it is imperative that Self Care be viewed as an ethical imperative for individuals working in public defense contexts.
What Can We do
Communicate Value Via Standards
Professional member organisations and associations should adopt professional standards that explicitly frame Self Care as necessary to adept legal practice.
Develop Self Care Practice Skills
Self Care is a practice skills that can be developed by making Self Care training widely available to public defender employee groups. As well Academic programs e.g. ( law, social work, criminal justice, journalism etc) should integrate self care concepts into curricula.
Implement Wellness Initiatives and Support
Employers should implement broad based wellness initiatives and support for those employed in public defender contexts.
The conceptualisation of these initiatives should include participatory methodological processes that engage a range of employee perspectives and a host of wellness topical areas (e.g physical, financial, spiritual etc.) At WOW Self Care School we use the 7 core plinths of Self Care.
Build An Evidence Informed Knowledge Base About Self Care
To be clear there is nominal research about Self Care among those employed in public defense contexts. Research partnerships can contribute to addressing limitations in the current knowledge about Self Care and contribute to developing a robust knowledge base grounded in empirical examination.
Source: University of Kentucky