Mind Matters

At 6, I wished to be Cinderella’s godmother. At 64, I still wouldn’t mind a magic wand. What would I change? It would be little things that would change the world. It really wouldn’t take much. We make such a grand deal out of what we can’t do, yet if we made little changes wherever we are in whatever moment we’re in, what then?

I hear stories where the scripts could so easily be re-written—no need for a magic wand. Recently, I heard a story about a nursing assistant who works hard at her job taking care of other people’s needs. One day, her father dies in a tragic accident, and her world falls apart—as it is wont to do in traumatic grief. She has difficulty returning to work and then she has her own mishap with a bad fall—another thing that occurs when we are pre-occupied and under stress. We are prone to injuries and accidents. I know this one first hand.

So what does her employer do? Fire her. This woman who always worked hard, has her life unravel even more. Just when she needs health insurance for her injury, she loses it. You can, with minimal imagination, figure out what happens next. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the next thing you know you either can’t pay the mortgage or the rent.

What if the story were different? What would happen if employers, especially in the health care field who should know better, would show understanding and empathy? What if they had said to this dedicated caregiver, “it looks like your grief is overwhelming you, how about we help you find counseling,” or “how about a leave of absence while we keep your health insurance going?” “How can we help you, who have helped so many for so many years?” Instead the workplace often regresses into a Charles Dickens universe of unredemptive and reactionary Scrooges.

What if the workplace Scrooges could meet their Christmas ghosts in the present moment rather than out of the past? Script change now instead of repentance at the end of the story? Surely, that would be a lot more helpful to individuals such as this nursing assistant.

So what if I did have a magic wand? I’d wipe away the bottom line mentality of the workplace and replace it with respect and care for the employees.

There are some companies that understand that such  positive regard for their employees creates a good environment not only for the worker, but also for the clients and customers they serve. Would that more workplaces take Charles Dickens to heart.

* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. She welcomes comments at MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or (610)388-2888. Past columns are posted to http://www.DrGajdos.com/Articles.

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About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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