Laura Woodward, who is based at the Village Vet hospital in Hampstead, London, has combined 20 years of veterinary experience with her psychotherapy training to publish a detailed guide for veterinary professionals.
Her desire to help colleagues with their own challenges means she will be gifting 50 percent of the book royalties to Vetlife, the UK charity that provides emotional, financial and mental health support to the veterinary community, with the other 50 percent going towards providing free therapy for vet nurses.
She said the book, entitled “Mental Wellbeing and Positive Psychology for Veterinary Professionals”, provides a pre-emptive, proactive and solution-based approach for veterinary professionals who need support, and a guide to positive psychology for those already enjoying the professions who want to make further positive changes.
Laura said: “As a therapist, I have a deep understanding of how debilitating depression and anxiety are and wanted to do more to help our professionals.
“We need to do much more to be aware of the issues causing stress and burnout in our profession, while sharing ways to address and manage our reaction to them.
“I also understand the profoundly beneficial effect of positive psychology and how it can affect our emotional state to make us more optimistic, resilient and better citizens of the workplace.”
Laura, who also runs regular mindful meditation and mental health days at veterinary practices across the UK, was approached by publishers Wiley Blackwell after she wrote a powerful article on the neuroscience of suicide.
She said she was delighted to have worked with them to author a book she hopes can help benefit everyone in the professions, from those just starting their careers through to those who have been working in the industry for years.
Laura added: “I believe that learning in advance about the common hurdles we will face during our careers, will help us to prepare ourselves in positive and proactive ways.
“The book also delivers a practical, hands-on guide to mental health and resilience for existing members of the veterinary professions and for those managing entire practices.
“It’s divided into six sections and offers valuable tools, including meditation, mindfulness, and positive psychology, to help readers deal with the mental challenges presented by veterinary practice.
“I’ve also included case studies and anecdotes from my experience in counselling different roles, including a new-graduate vet, a specialist surgeon, and a head nurse, as they encounter issues like anxiety, compassion fatigue, fear of failure, imposter syndrome and burnout.”
The UK’s leading veterinary service providers are also backing the book which is set to become the definitive industry guide to mental health issues.
Laura added: “I am delighted that all of the veterinary corporates are helping to promote the book and my hope is they will gift a copy to each of their new graduates as a start.”
For this article, Laura has also suggested three basic tips for each working day which anyone can start straight away:
- First thing in the morning, the moment you wake up: Take three slow deep breaths noticing that you’re alive and you can breathe. Feel gratitude for this and try to smile
- In the middle of the working day: Do at least one act of kindness with true sincerity, above what you would normally do. Notice the positive effects on the other person and within you
- Last thing at night: Keep a gratitude journal. Jot down three positive things from that day. Each day, find three new things
For more information on Laura’s counselling practice, visit her website.