Did you know?

That 1 out of 2 therapists is working with signs of burnout?

A research review published in the  Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2018 evaluated 30 years of research on this topic, including 9,000 psychotherapists. More than half of the psychotherapists included in the study reported “moderate-high levels of stress and burnout” Simionato & Simpson, 2018).

That burnout arises from both organisational and personal risk factors?

There is still no worldwide consensus about the definition of burnout.

The history of the term:

Freudenberger (1974) coined the term “burnout” to conceptualize a type of stress associated with feelings of exhaustion, disconnection, and

self-doubt derived from emotionally involved work in helping professions.

Maslach (1982) has written the most well accepted three dimensions of burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. Burnout is associated with physical and emotional fatigue at work, negative feelings or attitudes toward clients and job tasks, and a reduced sense of accomplishment associated with work-related successes (Maslach, & Jackson, 1981). 

There is a shortcut to find out if you are burnout

Although the work of Maslach has pioneered this field, there have been recent developments and innovations in the field. Jesus Montero-Marínand and colleagues have developed a more concise definition of burnout as measured by the “Burnout Clinical Subtype Questionnaire” (BCSQ-12) – comprising the subtypes of “frenetic” (involved, ambitious, overloaded), “underchallenged” (indifferent, bored, with lack of personal development) and “worn-out” (neglectful, unacknowledged, with little control). We are currently integrating the work of Montero-Marinand within our workshops and research projects.

The more burnout the less emotionally present we are in the treatment room

From an occupational perspective, burnout is commonly associated with emotional detachment, reducing worker productivity, and resulting in poorer work performance. Psychotherapists who attempt to override their symptoms of burnout experience reduced capacity to provide empathy, support, and guidance within their therapeutic work, therefore compromising client progress and wellbeing

You need to sleep to be an attentive and emotionally present therapist

Sleep is necessary for being present for your clients. High levels of burnout undermine the ability of helping professionals to take care of themselves and their clients, Alongside sleep disturbances, a range of other physical complaints have also been linked to burnout, including memory impairments, back pain, headaches, flu-like symptoms and gastroenteritis. Burned out clinicians also tend to report higher psychological distress and are at higher risk of developing depressive disorders.

The ‘always on’ button can lead you off track

The universal ‘Always on’ and ‘Hustle’ work cultures equate our worth as psychotherapists with long work hours, and demonstrating outcomes – i.e. ‘fixing’ mental health issues through ever shrinking protocols and manual-based treatments. Our competence is increasingly tied to our capacity to reduce waiting lists and generate rapid solutions to mental health problems. The factors that attracted us to this profession can be forfeited under the weight of competitive targets, and pressure for demonstrable short-term outcomes. Opportunities for creativity, and emotional connectivity can be lost, as we become focused on proving our worth, and “managing the un-manageable”.  All of these factors can place us at increased risk for burnout and stress.

Schemas are one of several personal factors that increase risk of burnout

Personal factors can also increase risk of burnout – including younger age, lower levels of experience, personality factors (neuroticism, excessive conscientiousness, overinvolvement/enmeshment in client problems; perfectionism and a tendency to strive to meet high self-expectations (Simionato & Simpson, 2018). Further, early maladaptive schemas have been shown to play a role in increasing vulnerability to burnout (Simpson et al., 2018).

It is helpful to emphasize realtime presence

Working online can present us with the challenge of looking at screens for hours on end, and being bombarded by multiple channels of communication, sometimes all at once. In the face of such digital challenges, we can learn ways of checking in with ourselves, by creating mini-pauses throughout our day, allowing us to connect and oscillate between our own self, and with others. (Carr, N.G. 2011) The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, New York, NY: W.W. Norton.