Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services

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Causes and Prevention of Burnout in Human Services Some helping professional enter into this field with expectations of gratification for a job well done, a positive impact on society their hope. Entering into the human service profession with rose-colored glasses, thinking they are there to fix the world is the first step to future burnout. This paper will develop a clear picture of the causes of burnout and look at prevention strategies. The Term “Burnout” coined and defined in 1981 by Herbert Freudenberger “A debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved work stress, resulting in: depleted energy and emotional exhaustion, lowered resistance to illness, increased depersonalization in inter personal relationships increased dissatisfaction and pessimism, and increased absenteeism and work inefficiency” (Freudenberger, 1981, p. 4). Christina Maslach expanded the definition “Burnout is the index of the dislocation between what people are and what they have to do. It represents erosions in values, dignity, spirit, and will…It is a malady that spreads gradually and continuously over time, putting people into a downward spiral from which it’s hard to recover” (Maslach & Leiter, 1997, p. 17). Social Workers enter into the field with the thought that helping people is their calling, knowing that the financial rewards were few. The emotional satisfaction and appreciation would be reward enough; only if it were true, personal satisfaction will never be enough. Stress of an underfunded and client laden workplace leaves helping professionals emotionally helpless and underappreciated. A workplace deficient in managerial support is a boiling pot. Managers and supervisors lacking in the training needed to support field worker promotes an environment rout with discontent and bitterness. The needs of society are ever changing requiring culturally

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