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Burnout and Self Care in Human Service Professions

Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD, LPC-MHSP
Counselor Toolbox Podcast

CEUs/OPD/CPDs are available for this presentation at in the US or for clinicians in Australia at

~ Identify signs and causes of burnout
~ Explore techniques for burnout prevention
Signs of Burnout
~ Physical and emotional exhaustion
~ Insomnia
~ Impaired concentration or memory
~ Physical symptoms (heart palpitations, HBP)
~ Appetite changes
~ Increased illness
~ Increases in depression and/or anxiety

~ Absence of positive emotions
~ Cynicism and disillusionment
~ Lack of patience
~ Lack of resilience (everything is a crisis)
~ Relationship deterioration
~ Substance abuse
~ Forgoing important personal activities

Causes of Burnout
~ Excessive workload
~ Emotionally draining work
~ Lack of support
~ Lack of resources
~ Lack of rewards
~ Lack of a sense of control/say
~ Unclear or everchanging requirements
~ Severe consequences of mistakes
~ Work/life imbalance
~ Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough
~ Pessimistic view of yourself and the world
~ The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others
~ High-achieving, Type A personality
~ Poor work/person fit

~ Set SMART goals for work
~ Brainstorm ways to work smarter, not harder
~ Squeegee (Cleansing) breath
~ Take time to add in the positive DAILY
~ Each day identify 3-5 things that went well
~ Keep a scrapbook or journal of your positive experiences (no PHI)
~ Perennial Garden
~ Ornaments/windchimes/stepping stones/Lego wall/backsplash tile wall
~ Journal

~ Develop support (co-workers, peers, supervisor)
~ Know and ask for what you need in terms of resources
~ Create Work/Life Balance
~ Develop and nurture relationships (schedule it in if needed)
~ Leave work at work (sorta)
~ Take time for self-care and relaxation
~ Eat healthfully
~ Check your need for perfectionism and control
~ Describe why you got into the field and visualize that intention (collage, etc)—money, help, adrenaline, status/power

~ Use psychological flexibility
~ To me, a rich and meaningful life is…
~ Is what I am doing/thinking/feeling helping me move toward those things?
~ If not, what can I do to improve the next moment
~ Perspective taking
~ Decision making
~ Coping and emotion regulation
~ Assertiveness
~ Relaxation
~ Cognitive restructuring

~ Identify the strengths and resources you do have
~ Mental Agility:
~ The ability to look at situations from multiple perspectives and to think creatively and flexibly. (state the other perspectives or solve from multiple approaches: cheap, fast or right)
~ Practice mindfulness
~ How do you feel emotionally and where is it coming from?
~ How do you feel physically and what does it mean?
~ What are your current thoughts and where are they coming from?
~ Be aware of your trauma triggers

~ Limit your contact with negative people.
~ Connect with a cause or a community group that is personally meaningful to you.
~ Advocate for yourself and others with your supervisor/human resources
~ Resources
~ Consistency
~ Transparency
~ Ability to admit mistakes
~ Support and celebration
~ Boundaries
~ Job control

~ Develop resiliency
~ Vulnerability prevention and mitigation
~ Awareness of what you can and cannot control
~ Distress tolerance
~ Optimism and hope
~ Gratitude
~ Optimistic explanatory style: the ability to notice and expect the positive, to focus on what you can control, and to take purposeful action
~ Character strengths: Use your top strengths to engage authentically, overcome challenges, and create a life aligned with your values
~ Burnout work environments are a reality
~ Burnout does not have to be
~ Burnout causes problems in
~ Health
~ Mental Health
~ Relationships
~ Work environment and employee retention
~ Ability to provide client services
~ Develop resilience and identifying the sources and interventions for your burnout