ASCP Skin Deep


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76 ASCP Skin Deep Winter 2023 THE SKIN CARE INDUSTRY CONTINUES to prioritize technical, hands-on learning over the cultivation of strong and flexible skills of communication (both listening and speaking) and self-regulation. These skills, however, are the bedrock of value as skin care professionals. It's possible that most of us don't notice it, but this oversight results in harm. In our continuing education courses at Healwell, we joke/don't joke that professionals do much more harm with their mouths than they will ever do with their hands. THE IMPORTANCE OF HARM REDUCTION Understanding the importance of harm reduction requires that you open yourself to the possibility you may be causing harm. The truth is that we all cause harm. Most of it is unintended, but intention and impact are different things. One of the newest courses offered through Healwell's online education portal is called "Pursuing Sensitive Disclosures: Skillfully Asking Clients Tough Questions to Assess Risk." The course is taught by Jenn Brandel, a licensed clinical social worker. The course was designed with social workers and talk therapists in mind, and at first glance it may seem to explore situations in which we are unlikely to find ourselves—asking clients about substance use, self-harm, and risky behaviors. However, the class is ultimately about helping clients move toward behavior change by using skillful inquiry (which, spoiler alert, is mostly about not talking). It is about the role of self-awareness, self-regulation, and personal inquiry in our interactions with clients as we learn about their lives and health and choices. While not geared toward skin care professionals exclusively, this course offers insights that can benefit all professionals who work hands-on with clients. When professionals choose not to prioritize the development of these skills, we unwittingly harm our clients and impede their chances of maximizing the potential benefits of our care. As a skin care professional, you spend a lot of time with bodies. You think about, read about, look at, and touch bodies—particularly faces— all day, every day. An unfortunate by-product of this otherwise awesome way of being in the world is that you tend to become inured to the truth that for most humans, the body is a fraught subject. It can be easy to forget when you have given hundreds of treatments that the "basic" questions you ask your clients are inherently sensitive because their bodies and skin are not typically a topic of discussion with others—and possibly not even with themselves. The other piece you may forget is that, while physical intervention is important, its impact is directly affected by the nonphysical interactions with clients. How do you ask questions? How do you respond to what they share? How do you ultimately guide them toward behavior change that will support greater comfort in their bodies? Harm Reduction Skin care professionals' communication skills must be as sharp as their techniques to achieve the most beneficial care By Cal Cates

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