Burnout and Self Care

Burnout and Self Care - Friday's Progress Notes

Editor's Note

Friday's Progress Notes
Mental Health Information
October 2018 - Vol. 22 Issue 5
Published by athealth.com

As counselors and therapists, we do meaningful work and provide important services to our clients. In providing those services, however, we face challenges that include burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatic stress.

We have an obligation to ourselves and to our clients to prioritize self-care to ensure that we keep ourselves healthy and protect our ability to provide appropriate, quality care to those we are treating.

This month we’ve collected the following resources to help you to recognize the symptoms of burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatic stress and to learn some strategies to stay healthy and at your professional best.

We welcome your comments and feedback. Is there a topic you'd like to see covered in a future edition of Friday's Progress Notes? If you'd like to get in touch just click here to send us a message.


  1. Burnout and Self Care: A Process in Helping
    This article discusses the ideas of burnout and self-care as ongoing processes that we can manage and develop mastery over. This understanding empowers us as professional helpers to effectively participate in self-care processes that will enrich us and maintain our capacity to give to and connect with others.
    The New Social Worker – The Social Work Careers Magazine
  2. Professional Quality of Life Scale (PROQOL)
    Take this self-administered screening test to determine your level of compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress.
    Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue Version 5 (2009)
  3. Standards of Self Care Guidelines
    These guidelines provide a roadmap to developing and activating your own self-care and burnout prevention plan.
    Green Cross Academy of Traumatology
  4. From burning bright to simply burned out by Chris Morkides
    What is burnout? What causes it? This article provides answers to these questions and also a discussion of strategies to help treat and avoid burnout that include balancing work and leisure, seeking counseling, and participation in supervision.
    Counseling Today, Features
  5. Helping Till It Hurts? A Multimethod Study of Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Self-Care in Clinicians Working With Trauma Survivors by Kyle D. Killian
    This article describes a study focused on identifying factors that relate to therapist resilience and burnout in work with trauma survivors. 20 clinicians participated in semistructured interviews, and 104 additional clinicians answered questionnaires about their caseloads, trauma history, coping styles, emotional self-awareness, work stress, compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, and burnout. The study found factors related to compassion satisfaction to be social support, work hours, and sense of autonomy at work, while factors related to burnout were work drain, lack of work morale, and neuroticism.
    Traumatology, Volume 14, Number 2; June 2008
  6. 10 Self-Care Survival Tips When You’re Suffering from Burnout
    A list of ten simple things to help manage stress and combat burnout.
    Elephant Journal

Compassion Fatigue and Secondary Traumatic Stress
Compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress are different, but they can both result from exposure to trauma in the lives of clients. Symptoms can mimic those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can be very distressing to those who experience them.

  1. Children’s Bureau Resource Library Podcast
    This podcast (runtime 32 minutes) features interviews with child welfare professionals who discuss how they have implemented strategies in their own agencies to help professionals cope with secondary traumatic stress, and how implementing these strategies has positively impacted both clinician job satisfaction and level of service delivery in their organizations.
    US Department of Health & Human Services
  2. Recognizing Compassion Fatigue in the Helping Professions by Jennifer Abcug
    This quick read provides a definition of compassion fatigue and ideas for how to protect yourself by setting appropriate boundaries, processing feelings that come up while you are at work, and participating in activities like yoga and meditation.
    Idealist Careers
  3. Secondary Traumatic Stress, Compassion Fatigue and Counselor Spirituality: Implications for Counselors Working with Trauma by Laura R. Simpson and Donna S. Starkey
    Simpson and Starkey discuss their findings after conducting research that examined the relationship between religion and spirituality in coping with stress and avoiding compassion fatigue symptoms.
  4. Working with Trauma Survivors: What Workers Need to Know
    Information compiled by the National Center for PTSD for researchers, providers, and helpers that provides information about the factors that contribute to burnout, symptoms of secondary traumatic stress and compassion stress, and a description of the effects that vicarious traumatization can have on professionals who do therapeutic work with trauma survivors.
    US Department of Veterans Affairs - National Center for PTSD