Professional Communicators

In Mental Health & Addictions - Alana, Student Blog by Alana LathamLeave a Comment

We are now entering our sixth week of the Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker (CMHAW) Program. It’s amazing how quickly the past six weeks have gone by.

The start to this program has been exciting and an adjustment for sure. I have once again realized the importance of organization and having a schedule as I am learning to balance my school life with my other priorities. I have compromised, removing some other things from my schedule in order to focus more time on my schoolwork. Sometimes life happens, unplanned events and different situations come up that we are not prepared for; It is what we do in these situations that determine our outcomes. I have seen classmates persevere and continue to turn their best work in regardless of anything that has come up for them along the way. Going into this program, I was not expecting to become connected with my classmates so quickly. I am happy to be a part of a class that has come together as a team and been available to help each other when its needed.

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We have just completed Communications 101: Professional Communications in Mental Health and Addictions as well as the text ‘Listening, the Forgotten Skill’. This class has been quite an experience. We have briefly touched on a variety of topics from empathetic listening, constructive feedback, the therapeutic relationship, leadership, conflict resolution and cultural differences to morals, values and ethics. We have had the opportunity to do a lot of group work, team work and team building exercises that strengthened our communication with each other and, to my belief, allowed people to come out of their shells in the classroom setting.

A large part of the class was focussed on the importance of Empathetic Listening. Empathetic Listening is such an important skill for a CMHAW to have. It gives us, as support workers, the ability to truly hear and understand what a person is saying. It is the ability to listen without judgement or being affected by prior biases. To hear what a person is saying without distraction either internally or externally. Allowing someone the opportunity to both truly feel and be heard has the ability to greatly impact them in a positive way.

“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It’s a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.”  -Deborah Tannen

A few of our classes began with a discussion to warm up, I would more likely call them heated debates! I found these were especially engaging. There was a lot of energy in the room as people shared their different perspectives and opinions on topics that were controversial. Even though some of these discussions did get heated, I saw that having the platform to express our own perspectives and stories allowed us to get to know each other better. Hearing different experiences also allowed me the opportunity to challenge my own standpoint and see the reasoning around different views.

This class, all in all, was very enjoyable. To top it off we were able to celebrate the close of this class with a potluck feast, good conversation and great laughter. I am looking forward to celebrating many more milestones with this great group of people.

About the Author
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Alana Latham

Alana Latham is a student in Stenberg's CMHAW program. The recipient of the inaugural Karen O'Shannacery scholarship, Alana volunteers at a residential substance abuse treatment centre and co-founded a women's support group.

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