Published on May 5th, 2016 | from CAMH

I am accountable

By Blair Chard, Recreation Therapist at CAMH

Have you met a Recreation Therapist before? I sometimes forget that my work at CAMH can be pretty unique, and to non-clinicians, the nature of my job can be a big question mark. But I like to sum it up in one word: accountability.

My role is to engage people in meaningful activity that will help restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person’s autonomy in daily living. I work at CAMH’s Queen Street site in the Complex Mental Illness (CMI) service. The clients I serve are mainly inpatients who may be acutely ill, sometimes even suffering symptoms of psychosis that distort the realities in which they live in.

BlairI take my role very personally, to the point where it reflects aspects of my personal goals as well. And over the years, my mantra has always remained the same: “I am accountable”. When I say this I mean to say that I live and believe in what I do. I am an active participant in groups while at work, and I continue to follow this goal of health, wellness and balance in life when I’m at home.

On a daily basis I can be involved in anywhere from three to five programs with clients. These programs range from a simple walk to helping a new person learn about what services CAMH has to offer, to facilitating sit-down coping skills programs designed to help people improve their well-being and create new strategies for increased quality of life.

And while I’m responsible for ensuring that our clients’ health and wellness needs are addressed, it goes far beyond that. Accountability doesn’t end when my responsibilities as a clinician end. I am accountable to them as people, who through no fault of their own, have to deal with the realities of day-to-day life with a complex mental illness. I am accountable in ensuring that my clients receive the same respect and dignity that everyone is entitled to, and we go to great lengths to make sure that we can at least give our clients that.

It’s a rewarding job that allows me to interact with our clients in meaningful ways, but it’s important that I form real connections with the people I interact with regularly. Whether they’re clients, other staff, visitors, or just people we encounter on the street, I am accountable for my words and actions, and I try to show that by letting my actions speak for themselves.

But accountability is a two-sided coin. To be accountable means to understand and sympathize with the thoughts and feelings of others. To be accountable means to learn from others and appreciate the lessons that others can teach you.

And that’s why I never put myself in the position of a lecturer;  to be accountable is to be a participant and learner as well.

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