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Thursday, January 24, 2019

How have your handled burnout in your career?

From "Burnout and Self Care: A Process In Helping" by David Papia, LCSW in The New Social Worker, Fall 2014
"Our social work profession is noble. This is a very special career path. We get to participate in important matters in people’s lives. We learn about ourselves, about others, and about humanity. We engage in giving and receiving, and we engage in relationships that further who we are and further those to whom we attend. However, our profession comes with many significant challenges and occupational hazards that threaten to weaken our profession and the resolve of the professional social worker.  
    We know that our profession has become deeply entrenched in managed care practices, bureaucracies and governing bodies determining our daily work conditions, very high caseloads, low salaries, and a profound amount of accountability expectations.  These realities and conditions can and sometimes do weigh very heavily. It is easy to recognize the feelings and sentiment of doubt and questioning: Should I continue in this profession? Am I enjoying my job? How can I sustain? We might even wonder if someone should consider entering our profession. As a father whose daughter has recently gone off to college and has an interest in social work, I notice myself being “on the fence” about her interest in our field."

Editor's note
This past October 31, 2018 I celebrated 50 years in the field of Psychiatric Social Work. It has been a very satisfying and fulfilling career because I have never seen it merely as a job. It has been a calling and something that I believe I have been called to do.
The money is terrible. The benefits are awful. The working conditions difficult and sometimes dangerous. The thanks and appreciation for efforts and skills expended meager. So why would anyone want a career and profession like this?
Because the human dilemna is fascinating. No two days or even hours in the day are alike. There is always something to learn and the problem solving activity is extremely creative as every person is special and unique. The overall faith that somehow the world is becoming a better place one person at a time is paramount and it is this faith that dispels burnout.
Dr. Susan McDaniel, the best mentor and teacher I ever had, told me one time after watching a family interview I conducted in front of a one-way mirror (with the family's permission), "Dave, If you aren't having fun you aren't doing it right," was the best feedback I have ever received about my clinical interviewing work.
So, whenever I am feeling stressed and burned out, I remind myself to lighten up. Am I trying too hard? How can I have a little fun and enjoy my interaction with this client(s)? And I smile and silently thank Dr. McDaniel for her wise encouragement.

1 comment:

  1. Seems like you got good advice about not taking yourself too seriously.

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