Emerge and Spread Your Wings

Need A Good Vent?

Vent – to give free expression to (a strong emotion)

“to let out, release, pour out, express or find an outlet for”

Feelings are powerful. When we work in helping professions, where our focus is on caring for others, we often encounter distress, pain, anxiety and loss in those we work with. We witness these emotions, often without being able to significantly ease them, and have to hold them in a professional manner. At the same time, we may also be feeling helpless, frustrated, angry or upset by the client’s situation or behaviour.

In order to look after our own wellbeing in our work we need mechanisms to safely “vent” these emotions and experiences in way that allows us to move on, rather than internalise. Experiencing ongoing stress without venting can lead to deterioration in our health, both physical and mental. We need to avoid apathy, negativity or cynicism building as a result of the challenges of our work.

Where, How and Why to Vent?

In some settings an empathetic manager, colleague or friend can provide a listening ear, but this isn’t always appropriate, or “safe”. By safe I mean confidential, non-judgmental and affirming. Being able to vent without your audience feeling the need to fix the situation. I’m sure, like me, you have been on the receiving end of a loved one’s vent – not easy to remain impartial.

Journaling or expressive writing can provide an opportunity to release stress, and reflect on the situation. Some people find getting the feelings out on paper makes them easier to process. Many, however, need the release of being able to voice their frustrations.

The relief my supervisees express after having an opportunity to vent about a client situation or other work challenge is evident. They will often demonstrate a change in their speed of speech, body language and tension – leaving at the end of the session speaking calmly with a relaxed and positive outlook.

Venting is a completely underrated, but appropriate element of the supervision relationship. If you are due a good vent, and don’t have a safe space for it, consider contacting me for a professional supervision session.