Crisis Intervention- Burnout
A crisis is a point of decision, which if not handled appropriately and timely may result into a disaster. Burnout is a form of crisis that mainly affects human services professionals. Burnout refers to a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion caused by long-term involvement in demanding tasks that accumulate stress (Davey, 1995). A human service professional is said to be in burnout if he or she is not able to meet constant demands. With the accumulation of stress, the professional begins to lose the motivation and interest in the service provision to humans. The burnout reduces productivity, and drains the professional’s energy leaving a feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, resentful and cynical.
Compassion fatigue is a type of burnout that affects human services professionals. It refers to spiritual, emotional or physical tiredness that overcomes a professional who is no longer able to feel and care for others (Figley, 1995). Compassion fatigue occurs when a professional gives away too much compassion over time without reassurance that the world is a better place. Vicarious traumatization occurs when a human services professional experience negative changes because of continuous witnessing of people’s suffering and need. A health worker that constantly deals with traumatized people will suffer from vicarious trauma, which negatively affects the spiritual, psychological and physical well-being.
Several behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms show that a professional is struggling with burnout. Behavioral symptoms include a professional isolating him or herself from others. Withdrawing from duties and responsibilities over time and using drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress are symptoms of burnout. In addition, absenteeism or reporting to work late and taking out anger on other people are behavioral signs of burnout. Emotional signs include loss of morale, a sense of failure or low self-esteem, feeling trapped and defeated in life. Increasing pessimism, negative look, dissatisfaction and low sense of accomplishment are also symptoms of burnout in a professional. On the other hand, physical symptoms of burnout include changes in sleep habits or appetite, feeling tired and weakened most of the time (Davey, 1995). Constant headaches, muscle aches or back pains and a sickly feeling most of the time are symptoms of burnout.
A professional can take several intervention techniques to address burnout before it is too late. A professional should get support from family and friends instead of isolating from others in an effort to preserve the little energy left. Sharing a problem with another person is important in reducing the burden. In addition, training on stress management enables a professional to deal with burnout (Kahill, 1988). Professionals learn on ways to maintain low levels of stress, which are unlikely to lead to burnout. Stress interventions such as writing narratives based on specific interesting topics reduces the likelihood of emotional and psychological stress.
Employee assistance programs also enable professionals to deal with burnout. They involve programs such as counseling, which provide measures that an employee can use to deal with stress. It is also essential for a professional to take time off from work in order to deal with burnout. A professional can take a vacation or take a temporary leave from work to be away from the situation and avoid further harm from burnout. In addition, a professional can ask for new responsibilities such as a different grade level to avoid the same routine work that causes burnout. Clarifying the job description for a professional is also an important intervention strategy.
Burnout is a gradual process, which develops with time because of accumulation of excessive stress. Certain symptoms that I might present may indicate I am struggling with burnout. These symptoms include experiencing a bad day every time such that all days at work are stressful and not fulfilling. Lack of emotional motivation in my job is a symptom that I am struggling with burnout. This involves absenteeism at work, reporting late and leaving late at the workplace shows signs of burnout. Having a lowered immunity and frequent headaches shows a struggle with burnout because of constant working without rest (Davey, 1995). Besides, using alcohol and other drugs are symptoms that I might present, which would indicate that I am struggling with burnout.
Communication is a personal plan that will assist me in avoiding burnout. Sharing the problem with family, friends and peers will assist me to seek counseling, support, and be able to deal with burnout. Further, to avoid burnout, I will set boundaries and expectations for my work so that work does not overwhelm me and reduce stress. To avoid burnout, I will engage in training programs that deal with stress management so that stress levels remain at minimum levels.
In case I find out that I am experiencing symptoms of burnout, I will follow the following plan of action. First, I will take the initiative to address the problem causing burnout by either talking to a superior or close friend to get support in solving the problem. Next, I will ask for a clarification of my job description so that I only perform the relevant tasks. I would also ask for new duties to avoid the routine works that eventually wear out a person causing burnout. Finally, taking time off from work when symptoms of burnout appear will be important because I get time to refresh and re-energize.
Davey, J. (1995). Burnout: stress in the ministry. Herefordshire: Gracewing Fowler.
Figley, C.R. (1995). Compassion fatigue, coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in
those who treat the traumatized. New York: Brunner and Mazel.
Kahill, S. (1988). Interventions for Burnout in the helping Professions: a review of the empirical
evidence. Canadian Journal of Counseling, 22(3), 162-169.