What Advice Do Counselors Have for Dealing with Burnout?

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    Counselor Brief

    What Advice Do Counselors Have for Dealing with Burnout?

    Counselors often face the challenge of burnout, so we've gathered five invaluable pieces of advice from seasoned therapy professionals. From implementing routines to joining a consultation group, discover how to maintain your well-being and passion for your work with these expert tips.

    • Implement Routines
    • Practice Holistic Self-Care
    • Lean into Compassion
    • Schedule Regular Deep Rest
    • Join a Consultation Group

    Implement Routines

    Since I began practicing therapy, I've noticed one of my telltale symptoms of burnout is decision fatigue. I see this in the experience of my burnt-out clients as well. What's helped us during these times is the creation and implementation of a routine for both self-care and other responsibilities. By taking the paralyzing 'What do I do next?' question out of the picture, this personalized structure helps keep us on track while remaining able to take care of both our clients and ourselves.

    Allison ColaianniSex and Relationship Therapist, Center for Modern Relationships

    Practice Holistic Self-Care

    One crucial piece of advice for counselors facing burnout is to prioritize self-care, and not just in the physical sense (though getting enough sleep and eating well are important!). Counselors should also consider emotional and mental self-care. This could involve activities that help them de-stress and recharge, like spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in hobbies they enjoy. Additionally, counselors shouldn't be afraid to seek support from colleagues, supervisors, or even a therapist themselves. Talking about their struggles and developing a plan to combat burnout can be incredibly helpful.

    Kim Feeney
    Kim Feeneytherapist, Butterfly Beginnings Counseling

    Lean into Compassion

    When I approach the topic of counselor burnout, it is important to first acknowledge the level of emotional stress involved with the role. To be a good counselor, you have to be empathic, and empathy is an amazing trait that really strengthens the therapeutic process of counseling. However, it can take a toll on the counselor as they are spending a large part of their day sitting in an emotionally charged space alongside their clients.

    As a stress management specialist, if I could only give one piece of advice, it would be to take 3–5 minutes at the end of every session to lean into compassion. Empathy requires us to 'feel' what the other person is feeling, whereas compassion requires us to share and extend some kindness and care for the other person. This little switch can shift us into a more positive headspace and have a huge impact on how our bodies tolerate the stressors that ultimately lead to burnout.

    Taylor Rahe
    Taylor RaheOccupational Therapist, TRU Whole Care

    Schedule Regular Deep Rest

    Rest. The best piece of advice I received as a trainee was from my supervisor. She advised taking a vacation, mini or a full week, once a quarter. We need this for our souls to rest. We are giving so much out every day; we have to replenish ourselves fully. Yes, exercise, taking baths, reading, etc., is helpful, but deep resting is essential so you can gain a new perspective in order to come back and give again.

    This is a long-term tool in the counseling profession, or any giving profession. You must replenish yourself, or there will be nothing left to give to others. Be kind to yourself, and give back to you.

    Pam Bauerle
    Pam BauerleRelationship and Sex Therapist, LMFT, CSTIP, Couples Resource Collective

    Join a Consultation Group

    I can't reiterate the value of a consultation group enough. Therapy should not be done alone, and when it is, it leads to higher burnout. Consultation groups offer a place for the counselor to unload their own emotional processes, get validation, and feel empowered to keep working with challenging clients. That supportive space reduces the feeling of burnout tremendously.

    Lauren Pasqua, PsyD
    Lauren Pasqua, PsyDExecutive Director, Connections Child and Family Center