Dr. Shirley Giroux, RCC. School Counsellor, Valemount, BC; Sessional Instructor, UNBC School of Education; Sole Proprietor, CompassioNorth Consulting 

Presentation Description

We hear a lot these days about all being in this together but also how we need to make sure we are engaging in self-care; how might these two messages fit together to provide us with the support we all need to stay resilient in these challenging times? What do we mean when we talk about resilience and why isn’t it something we can do on our own? In this presentation, you will have an opportunity to hear about some of the strategies and challenges of BC teachers who have thought and shared about how they have managed to stay teaching (and caring for children at work) while also caring for those in their own homes (e.g. their own children) and larger lives (e.g. friends and extended family). Through their stories and connections to the larger bodies of research on resilience and caregiver wellness, we will learn what kinds of strategies appear to best support sustained well-being when doing the challenging work of teaching and caring for other humans and why we might be so much better off to focus on collective care rather than self-care.

Learning Objectives

From this presentation, participants can expect to learn: 

  • Strategies that support resilience as a human who cares for and about other humans. 
  • Ideas to help enable and support collective care as a foundation of resilience. 
  • The importance of story and emotion in connecting with each other.

 Key take-away message 

It is natural and normal to struggle with multiple caregiving demands at home and at work and it doesn’t have to lead to ongoing negative repercussions for carers. Staying resilient (and even thriving) in doing this work does not have to be complicated and is not a question of self-care:  a network of supportive relationships can help us realize the collective care that most strongly supports resilience while also helping us build compassionate systems to enable further growth and thriving on a large scale.

Key Resources

Change Your World:  The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success. Michael Ungar. 2019. 


Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others. Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky with Connie Burk. 2009. 


The Resilient Practitioner:  Burnout Prevention and Self-Care Strategies for Counsellors, Therapists, Teachers, and Health Professionals. Thomas Skovholt & Michelle Trotter-Mathison. 2000/2010


Presenter Bio

The child of two adventurous teachers, Shirley grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada’s North (all three territories at different points), and the village of Valemount, BC, to which she has lately returned with her husband and two school-aged children to be a school counsellor. Being half-time at each of Valemount Elementary and Secondary schools, she has the unique opportunity to work with all of the students, education staff, and school families in the village. Shirley trained as a secondary science teacher and started her teaching career in BC’s Cariboo-Chilcotin region where she taught for 13 years. She spent three years as an elementary school principal before deciding to move back to Valemount for her current position, which was too good to pass up. She also teaches sessional classes at two local universities. 

Shirley is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a particular interest in resilience, attachment, and infant mental health (especially with regards to caregiver support). She is a facilitator for multiple parent groups (Circle of Security, Connect, and Bounce Back & Thrive) and a trainer for the RIRO resilience training for ECEs and Sunshine Circles groups. She has also trained in use of the neurorelational framework, reflective parenting practice, and Theraplay for work with parent-child dyads. In 2019, she completed a PhD in Health Sciences wherein she combined her various interests to look at sources of resilience of self-identified female teachers who managed multiple caregiving demands in their daily work. This work won her two national awards. She continues to do independent research and is an EdCan expert contributor for their “Well at Work” series. Shirley is currently training to be a Compassionate Systems Master Practitioner where she is completing a project on how connection and resilience can be fostered for people living and working in rural and remote settings where there are typically fewer local resources. She also supports this work through her newest venture:  CompassioNorth Consulting.