Burnout and selfcare for the social work profession
the 21st International Summer School in Social Work we had guests from 10
different countries. The atmosphere in the course was really cosy and
conversational. We had student panels from different countries and we had also
presentations about many interesting subjects. We chose to write about burnout
and selfcare for the social work profession, because it’s interesting topic and
also current issue in Finland. Dr. Donna Wampole from University of Southern
Maine, USA, was giving us presentation about this theme. The presentation was
really interesting, beneficial and also really entertaining. Donna Wampole
encouraged us to take care of ourselves in the future when we are working as
is an international phenomenon which can happen to everyone around the world,
especially to people who have demanding job, where they are helping other
people and see all kinds of issues. In Finland there has been a lot of
discussion about burn out among social workers. Many social workers have had to
take a break from their profession to recover from it. Recovery from burnout
can take many months.
Donna Wampole was telling us that compassion fatigue can turn into burnout. She
was telling us that when we meet sad or unpleasant things, we begin to feel
tense. Sometimes some cases can hit you and somehow really touches you and you
can’t seem to let it go. Then you became emotionally exhausted. When you are
emotionally exhausted, you might feel anxious, depressed, distress and anger
and you need additional sleep. When someone is suffering from burnout, there
can also be challenges falling or staying asleep, weight gain, poor eating
habits and so on. However, burnout is a different experience for everyone.
work as a profession is quite demanding, because there is so many people that
need help but there’s not enough resources to help everyone as fast as should.
Especially in child protection there has been a huge crisis in Finland; one
social worker has too many children to work with. This kind of situation can
easily lead to social workers burnout.
someone is suffering from burnout or stress, it is helpful to find ways to
relax. For example, you can do something active and exercise or take a walk,
whatever you find relaxing. Creative art and music can be helpful to someone,
or spending time with family and friends. It also helps if you know yourself,
for example if you are introvert, you might relax easier by yourself and
extrovert relaxes better being with other people.
has been truly effective exercise in taking care of burnout patients. The
origin of mindfulness is from Buddhism and it is commonly used in many
therapies nowadays. Doing mindfulness, you need to concentrate on how you feel.
¨The awareness that emerges through
paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the
unfolding of experience moment by moment¨ (Kabat-Zinn 2003, pg. 145).
the end of presentation, we tried to do mindfulness and it was really relaxing.
We closed our eyes and just focused on to this moment. We also repeated
positive thoughts and hoped positive things, even to people that we find a
little bit challenging. It might be good to all of us to start doing
mindfulness already, maybe we could prevent burnout that way!