Code Lavender: When Caring Gets Tough

Code Lavender

Code Lavender

Rapid holistic support. Well-being.

The Story

Something I have been exploring recently is the topic of Safe and Effective Use of Self (SEUS). 

Safe and effective use of self refers to the psychotherapist’s learned capacity to understand his or her own subjective context and patterns of interaction as they inform his or her participation in the therapeutic relationship with the client. It also speaks to the psychotherapist’s self-reflective use of his or her personality, insights, perceptions and judgments in order to optimize interactions with clients in the therapeutic process. - College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO)

When I think of SEUS, I the following comes to mind: i) self-awareness, ii) transference/countertransference, and iii) the well-known quote “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
It was around April of this year, when the institution I did my music therapy internship at held a ‘CODE LAVENDER’ event; I knew of all the other emergency codes (e.g. red, white, yellow, etc.), but not this one. As I walked into the event, I realized the CODE LAVENDER signified holistic wellness (hence, lavender), particularly geared towards hospital staff and health care providers/caregivers. Got some nice goodies for myself (including some African Black Soap), and felt revitalized. I then went to do a bit more digging about this CODE LAVENDER.

Fast Facts

  • The first Code Lavender initiative started at Cleveland Clinic in 2009, as a partnership between holistic nurses and chaplains (as well as other support services)

  • Created for both staff and patients

  • Code Lavender = providing holistic rapid responses to emotionally stressful events

  • Each Code Lavender team member offers various services and support within their scope of practice

  • Evidence-based relaxation and restoration interventions

  • Similar to psychological first aid

We didn’t have a Code Lavender team at my internship site, but the general idea and focus of wellness is similar. I’m just glad that people are being supported for emotional as well as physical needs. It may not be present in all hospitals or healthcare settings, but at least Code Lavender is a thing.

Take Action: BYO ‘Code Lavender’ Kit

It’s pretty much your ‘Self-Care Emergency Kit’ but rebranded with a more floral name. Here are some ideas that I put together, which incorporate different items to stimulate all 5 senses (touch, taste, smell, sound, sight) and to provide one with the support they need (e.g. affirmation cards, list of loved ones’ contact information).

Code Lavender Kit.png

Build your own by grabbing a few items that make you and your 5 sense feel good. what would you include?