When Helping Starts to Hurt: A New Look at Burnout Among Psychotherapists
A career in mental health can be rewarding and deeply satisfying. Yet, when clinicians fail to maintain balance between work, family, and leisure, ... Show synopsis A career in mental health can be rewarding and deeply satisfying. Yet, when clinicians fail to maintain balance between work, family, and leisure, they are vulnerable to burnout. At a time when mental health dollars are being stretched to the limit and practitioners in both the public and private sectors are facing increased caseloads, professional burnout is becoming more prevalent and troublesome. Integrating Kohut's self psychology and Bowenian family systems theory, this book takes a systematic look at the roots of burnout. These go deep into the narcissistic vulnerability of the individual therapist, family-of-origin dynamics that are played out in the workplace, and stresses within and between current family and work systems that leave the therapist trying - and failing - to gain the appreciation that comes from pleasing everyone. When environmental demands increase and are prolonged, the boredom, exhaustion, despair, and poor judgment characteristic of burnout flourish. In addition to offering advice on preventing burnout, the book presents a model for treatment. This is illustrated in short vignettes and one extended case study. The authors share their optimism that burnout is not a given and that, through the use of professional peer group support, supervision, and individual therapy, it can be avoided or overcome.