Fostering Psychological Safety: Creating Empathetic Working Environments in Children's Services

Team TICS
September 21, 2023

In children's services, where the well-being and development of young minds are at
the forefront, it is crucial to establish psychological safety as a cornerstone (Gilroy,
2023). A psychologically safe working environment not only nurtures the growth of children but also empowers professionals to provide their best care and support. In this blog, we will explore how this can be achieved (Garcia et al., 2023). The foundation of psychological safety lies in open and non-judgmental communication (Tucker & Hoyling, 2023). Professionals should encourage children, colleagues, and parents to express their thoughts, concerns, and ideas freely. This fosters an atmosphere of trust, where everyone feels valued and heard. When the channels of communication are open, we can build strong connections together as a team which ultimately will enable us to feel more psychologically safe as an individual (Gilroy, 2023).

At TICS, the needs of our Associates and staff team are central to everything we do. We are open and transparent about our ideas and everything we do is built on mutual respect and trust for one another. We ensure that we are flexible and take into account a variety of working patterns and styles, strive to operate in ways that aren't neurotypically-centric (is that a word?), embrace and actively encourage expression of lived experiences alongside professional expertise and academic knowledge and cultivate spaces of belonging.

Do you do something similar in your organisation or service? If not, what needs to happen to increase non-judgemental communication? You will be surprised at the huge difference it makes to employee wellbeing, as well as productivity and quality of outputs. What isn’t there to like?

To provide the best care, as professionals in children's services, we must stay up to date on the latest research and best practices. Encourage ongoing training and professional development to ensure that staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to support children effectively. More importantly, leadership needs to ensure that there is space provided to attend training and time allocated for reading. In other words, encouragement isn't quite enough without the support to do it. I remember the days when you'd be given a study day but the the other four days of the week had to hold your full-time workload and you of course had to study! A recipe for burnout.

Creating a psychologically safe environment requires collaboration among professionals from various disciplines (Miller et al., 2023). The collaborative efforts of all teams working together are vital to providing comprehensive and holistic support that nurtures a child's physical, emotional, and educational development, ensuring their overall well-being. As we reiterate here at TICS, ‘it takes a village.’

Such environments also mean that we can work together to foster resilience and provide opportunities to work through challenging situations together. This approach has been found to prevent burnout whilst ensuring consistent, high-quality care for children (Lane et al., 2023).

Finally, the creation of a psychologically safe working environment is not just an aspiration; it's a necessity. By implementing these strategies, we can create an atmosphere of trust, empathy, and collaboration, ultimately leading to better outcomes for children and their families. Remember, a safe and supportive environment benefits not only the children but also the dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to nurture their growth and well-being.


References
Garcia, A., Sprang, G., & Clemans, T. (2023). The role of school leaders in
cultivating a trauma-informed school climate. Children and Youth Services
Review
, 146, 106816.

Gilroy, H. (2023). Becoming a Trauma-Informed Leader. Journal for Nurses in
Professional Development
, 39(1), 65-66.

Lane, R., Labno, A., D’Souza, S., Ullman, R., Singleton, R., Bevington, D., … &
Edbrooke-Childs, J. (2023). Staff burnout in the Children and Young People Secure
Estate (CYPSE) in England. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 38(2), 147-
164.

Miller, N., Nair, S., & Majumder, P. (2023). Is it ‘just ’trauma? Use of trauma-informed
approaches and multi-agency consultation in mental healthcare of looked after
children. BJPsych Bulletin, 1-5.

Tucker, S., & Hoying, J. (2023). “Empathic Communication Part I: Responding to
Stress in the Workplace." In Workplace Wellness: From Resiliency to Suicide
Prevention and Grief Management: A Practical Guide to Supporting Healthcare
Professionals,
pp. 153-163. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

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