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AWARE Ink Newsletter

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The Beauty of a Manicure

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Guest Column by Christine Barry, CSCT Clinician

As a CSCT therapist, I love summer program. Summer is magical for both staff and our clients. We get to spread out more into the community. We get to experience and practice skills we have been working on in real places, in real time and not just the therapy room or classroom. The stress of school, assignments, tests, peer pressure, and school rules are gone for a while and I get to introduce clients to things they may have never experienced, things many people take for granted, but my clients have never done.


All school year, I talk with clients about self-care, and from my elementary age clients, the response mostly these days is, yes, I do self-care. They play video games all night. They binge watch Tik Tok videos and they view electronics in general as self-care. The therapist in me knows better though and I reframe electronics as a distraction. It does relax you perhaps, but it is not physical self-care. To that I usually get a squinched-face emoji. Trauma has a physical reaction in the body and healing it, involves also doing a physical type of self-care, I try to explain. Then I get an eye roll emoji. They just do not have the experience; the neuronal network that is kind, compassionate. Self-care is not a familiar pathway. Talking and words just do not get them there.


How do you get preteen girls to understand that Tik Tok is not self-care? How do you help them experience physically healing yourself? How about a manicure? And to that I got four smiley face emojis! I took them to the beauty college where students are learning to be beauticians. Then the magic started: picking polish colors, filing nails, soaking hands, a hand message with lotion, delicate painting of fingernails, polite, reciprocal conversations with their manicurist. My superficial, interruptive, silly, sassy preteens were laser focused, still polite, asking questions about careers, talking about the best way to not bite their nails, or take care of hangnails. They proudly showed me their nails. At the reception desk the manicurists all lined up to tell them goodbye and said, “Thank you ladies for coming in today.” My clients gave them a deer in the headlights emoji (perhaps they had never been referred to as a lady?). I said, “Ladies what do you say?” Big smiles! “Thank you for letting us come!” See what I mean? Magic!


Stars in the eyes emojis for everyone!!


Now as summer ends, I will go to training for the start of another school year. Someone will talk to therapists and behavioral specialists about the importance of self-care. We all will nod our heads, yes, yes. This time, however, I am going to remind my own self that I actually have to physically do it.

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