Professional Ethics: Avoiding Burnout. Presented By Chip Abernathy, LPC, MAC. Competence Is the Issue. Avoiding burnout and professionals’ self-care is often discussed in the area of professional ethics Competence to perform our work is the issue
Professional Ethics:Avoiding Burnout
Chip Abernathy, LPC, MAC
Avoiding burnout and professionals’ self-care is often discussed in the area of professional ethics
Competence to perform our work is the issue
How well we take care of ourselves affects the client who seeks our help
For the sake of consistency in this presentation, counselors will be the professionals noted in the examples given. However, any helping professional could be used in the examples, i.e. doctors, pharmacists, nurses, lawyers, etc.
Maslach and Jackson (1981) define burnout as
Emotional exhaustion involves feelings of being emotionally drained by one’s job
What does emotional exhaustion look like or sound like to patients? My counselor…
Depersonalization involves the development of negative, cynical attitudes towards clients
What does depersonalization look like or sound like to patients? My counselor…
Reduced personal accomplishment is characterized by feelings of ineffectiveness in one’s professional role
What does reduced personal accomplishment look like or sound like to patients? My counselor…
Clients come to professionals with hope that the relationship with the professional will help to make their lives better
That is a reasonable expectation
We are expected to be competent to do our job
Burned out professionals provide ineffective treatment
That ineffective treatment leads to
Burnout affects how professionals view patients and themselves, and this affects how professionals interact with clients
Additionally, burnout affects how patients view professionals, view themselves, and view the therapeutic relationship
Our ability to put forth the energy, attentiveness, and best use of our skills towards helping a client is largely determined by what kind of shape we are in…
We can reduce stress and enhance our effectiveness, both personally and professionally, by attending to all these life areas
Helping professionals become burned out the same way people in other professions do…
We reach a state of mental exhaustion caused by the perception of being overwhelmed
Burnout is a reaction to stress
Some signs of burnout include…
Are you more cynical, critical and sarcastic at work?
Do you drag yourself into work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
Are you less patient and more irritable with co-workers?
Are you using food, alcohol/other drugs, or compulsive behaviors to feel better or to not feel?
Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
Do you feel insurmountable barriers at work?
Do you lack the energy to be productive?
Do you have a hard time laughing at yourself?
Do you have unexplained headaches, neck pain or lower back pain?
A ‘yes’ could indicate burnout - or a mental health issue such as depression which needs professional attention
In order to avoid or to recover from burnout, weneed to look at
Taking steps to prevent burnout is the best way to avoid it
Some ways that I can take care or myself physically are to
I can take care of my mental health by
Some ways I can enhance my spiritual health are to
Body, mind, and spirit all work together
When I am taking care of my body, my mind and my spirit, I am less likely to become burned out and more likely to be effective and competent as a professional
In his book The Road Less Traveled (p. 11)
M. Scott Peck, M.D. asserts that there is “no distinction between the process of achieving spiritual growth and achieving mental growth. They are one and the same.”
Learning and practicing sound stress management skills are key factors in preventing and recovering from burnout. Some tried and true stress management skills include…
Creating balance in life enhances burnout prevention and management. Create balance between…
Keith-Speigel, P., & Koocher, G.P. Ethics in psychology: Professional standards and cases. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985, p. 241
McCarthy, W.C. Negative aspects of therapy: Client perceptions of therapists’ social influence, burnout, and quality of care. Journal of Social Issues, Spring, 1999
Maslach, C.,& Jackson, S.E. The measurement of experienced burnout. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 2(2), 99-113, 1981
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Job burnout: Understand symptoms and take action. www.mayoclinic.com
National Institutes of Health. Stress management. www.medlineplus.gov, updated 2-6-08
Peck, M.S. The road less traveled: A new psychology of love, traditional values, and spiritual growth. New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 1, 1978
Zur, O. Taking care of the caretaker: How to avoid psychotherapists’ burnout. www.zurinstitute.com