How to develop your own self-care protocol

  • When someone says ‘self-care’ what image comes to mind?
  • What are the positive and negative aspects of this image?
  • Do you have clear intentions for self-care, and your own self-care protocol?


Last month, we explored self-care in our regular Community of Practice for therapeutic specialists and others with a therapeutic leadership role in out of home care.

We know self-care isn’t a one-off action and requires intentionality, planning and consistency to enhance wellbeing. At the same time, we also know how easy it is for self-care to slide off our radar when faced with urgent and complex demands. As Kottler & Hazler (1997) note, there are oft-spoken rationalisations for avoiding or facing our own challenges. Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • “This period will pass. I am just busier than usual at this point”
  • “None of my colleagues or managers have complained to me about not doing my job properly”
  • “I’m really experienced, so I can deal with this difficulty with out any input from others”


And yet, self-care is not simply about limiting or minimising professionals’ stressors. It is about enhancing your overall well-being. Using Dan Siegel’s Mind Health Platter, we asked Therapeutic Specialists to assess their self-care across the five domains according to frequency (no activity in the last month, once or twice, at least weekly, etc.)


While each of us differed in the domains we emphasized, many shared that play time – when we sit back, relax and be spontaneous, creative and playful – was seldom in focus. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we stop playing. Some therapeutic specialists opted to set intentions to play in their free time (e.g. learning magic tricks) while others reflected on how collaborative play was also often missing in the dynamics between children and young people in therapeutic residential care.

This observation led to an important discussion about the difference between competitive and collaborative play for children and young people who have experienced trauma. As Noel Macnamara writes here, when deciding to play competitive games with children and young people who have experienced abuse and trauma it is important to aware of how trauma impacts on the child or young person’s capacity to remain within their window of tolerance. You can read more on this here: Cooperative and competitive play.

As you look forward into 2022, you might like to explore the Mind Health Platter tool and our adjusted self-assessment and action plan with your teams. You can use these tools to assess what your self-care currently looks like and to create a self-care protocol.


You can access them here:

pdf file download icon
Healthy Mind Platter Self Care Assessment
pdf file download icon
Healthy mind platter self care assessment action plan