Kim Dixon, BA, MSc, CPS (F) FAMILIES Peer Specialist (&Co.) Area Manager
I’ve always enjoyed rowing – surprised to discover that I can gaze backward while still be gliding forward. As I reflect back on my twenty years with the BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS), I still need to continue moving forward with the FAMILIES™ I serve.
Today I am faced with the death of my father and I now understand that my feelings of sadness are a normal part of the grieving process.
I want to continue to evolve through self-awareness and reflection. Reflection is a process of discovering knowledge we hold because of our experiences. It allows us to assess, understand and learn through our experiences. That is, we examine the experience rather than just living it.
BCSS is guided by a set of core values; family centred, partnership and respect, innovation and improvement, plus accountability and transparency. I would like to share some of my personal reflections on how these core values are woven into my work with FAMILIES and what I have learned.
FAMILIES™ has always been at the centre of my work with BCSS. My definition of family-centred includes the entire family unit – not only the individual living with a mental illness – but the parents, partners, siblings and adult children who care. My experience is that there has been a shift from a singular focus on the patient to a broadening view of the entire circle of care – Person and Family Centred Care. I believe we are still missing an equally important member – the provider. Perhaps the way forward is what FamilySMART™ calls Together-Centred where everyone –patients, FAMILIES™and providers–are considered assets in moving us forward.
I want to continue to evolve through self-awareness and reflection.
My colleagues and I have created a culture of radical acceptance among all peer staff, volunteers and the family members we serve with RESPECT and VALUE (RAV). I believe respect is more than simply being polite or sharing words of appreciation. Respectful valuing recognizes every individual’s unique skills and links these strengths to the goals of emotional healing, plus power and action in our journey of adaptation to the trauma of mental illness. Our partnership recognizes everyone as having the capacity to be a leader in moving us forward.
Have I mentioned that I am a FREE SPIRIT? At a recent workshop I discovered that I am motivated by autonomy. I love to explore and create. Innovation that leads to improvement has always been my carrot. In the area of family support I introduced the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support group model in 2002. And, today I am creating Guidelines for the Practice of Family [Peer] Support for one on one support for FAMILIES™ affected by mental illness. When the Strengthening Families Together (SFT) family education program was introduced in 2005, I took five years to study the SFT effect on reducing burden and increasing resiliency among FAMILIES, which also supports the last BCSS core value of accountability and transparency.
I have learnt through this ongoing process of reflection on my actions, both personally and professionally, that my way forward is to row my own boat while being guided by the values I hold true for me. As the childhood rhyme reminds us: Row, row, row your boat, Gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream. –Kim Dixon, BA, MSC, Area Manager 2017