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Burn-Out - Stages of Disillusionment in the Helping Professions

NCJ Number
J Edelwich; A Brodsky
Date Published
255 pages
The causes of burnout in the helping professions are explored and constructive intervention techniques to combat burnout are proposed.
The book identifies the four stages of burnout (disillusionment) as enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration, and apathy. The causes of burnout are explored, including insufficient salary, long working hours, career dead-ends, lack of appreciation, powerlessness, and lack of training. Appropriate intervention measures at each stage of the burnout process are outlined. The best time for intervention is in the enthusiasm stage, when expectations can be explained in terms of realistic goals. In the stagnation stage, further education and other interventions emphasive movement are especially useful. The energy of discontent in the frustration stage can be channeled toward the possibility of change, while at the apathy stage, involvement is recommended as the best intervention technique. The intervention methods outlined are derived from Glasser's Reality Therapy and Ellis's Rational-Emotive Therapy, both of which work from an acknowledgment of existing conditions rather than an idealized reconstruction of the helping relationship. Since intervention can occur at any of the stages of burnout, each chapter contains illustrations of how individuals cope with the problems commonly encountered in a given stage. The goal of interventions for institutions is to develop staff training strategies that will effectively prepare people for burnout avoidances and thus reduce the institutional costs of burnout effects. For the individual, the goal is to accept reality, assume responsibility for oneself, and to be able to derive enjoyment and a sense of self-worth from doing a job that is worth doing well. Notes, a bilbiography, and an index are included.