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Wk 4 Discussion – Reducing Risks of Burnout

Respond to the following in a minimum of 175 words:

One role of a trained crisis counselor includes working for a crisis hotline. Crisis hotlines are call centers that take phone calls from individuals experiencing various type of crises or trauma. For exle, there are hotlines specifically for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts, for survivors of sexual assault, for veterans, and for mobilizing mobile crisis outreach teams. When working at these hotlines, counselors intercept back-to-back crisis-related calls for their entire shift. Long hours spent hearing about clients’ traumatic experiences, intervening when clients present as suicidal, and making decisions about high-risk crisis situations can be very taxing on a counselor.

How might counselors who work with high-risk clients experience vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout? What might self-care look like for a counselor in this situation? What strategies might a counselor use to prevent experiencing vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, or burnout in the future? Which other professionals might face a similar risk in the counseling field?

Respond to each classmate in a minimum of 175 words:

SW Classmate:

Counselors who work with high-risk clients can easily experience vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout. Counselors form an empathetic relationship with clients, listening closely to their feelings and experiences. Listening to repeated experiences of trauma can cause a therapist to disengage with clients and experience alterations in thought, behavior, and relationships (Bell #038; Robinson, 2013).

Vicarious trauma is the traumatization of the therapist as they listen to repeated trauma of clients (Kanel, 2018). Therapists can develop PTSD from vicarious trauma. They may experience intrusive thoughts, distressing dreams, and heightened startle reflex. They may begin to feel hopelessness and fear by being vicariously traumatized. These symptoms will put the counselor in danger of lack of competence professionally, lower quality of life, and self-harm. Compassion fatigue is a related condition. Compassion fatigue occurs when a counselor’s internal reserves are depleted, and they have difficulty empathetically connecting to their clients. Their minds might wander, and they feel ambivalent (Hesse, 2002). Burnout is a condition where an individual feels emotionally and physically exhausted and unable to continue. Burnout happens when one works in an emotionally demanding environment for long periods of time. It also brings about feelings of lack of drive or effectiveness (Hesse, 2002).

Self-care is imperative for counselors, especially when working with trauma. Counselors must recognize they need emotional support from colleagues, supervisors, friends, and family (Kanel, 2018). Self-care includes watching for warning signs in one’s self. It also includes eating well, exercising, taking time to rest, and taking time for hobbies. Spirituality can be an important component of self-care, with activities such as attending church, yoga, and being in nature (Hesse, 2002). Going to therapy is also an important part of self-care for a counselor (Bell #038; Robinson, 2013)

Strategies to prevent vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout can include integrating the above self-care strategies on a regular basis. Clear emotional boundaries and a limited case load can also protect the counselor (Hesse, 2002). Peer support, such as regular supervision and consulting with colleagues, are strong strategies as well (Bell #038; Robinson, 2013).

           Medical staff, EMT’s, Firefighters, and Police are other professionals who can experience vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout as a result of prolonged exposure to others experiencing trauma (Hesse, 2002). They need to practice self-care and incorporate strategies to ward off these conditions just as counselors do.

 Bell, C. H., #038; Robinson III, E. H. (2013). Shared trauma in counseling: Information and implications for counselors. Jouirnal of Mental Health Counseling, 35(4), 310-323.

 Hesse, A. R. (2002). Secondary trauma: How working with trauma survivors affects therapists.Clinical Social Work Journal, 30(3), 293-309.

 Kanel, K. (2018). An Overview of Crisis Intervention. In (Ed.), A guide to crisis intervention (6th ed.). Cengage Learning. 


JB Classmate:

British Medical Association, BMA. (2022). Vicarious trauma: signs and strategies for coping. January 17, 2022. https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/your-wellbeing/vicarious-trauma/vicarious-trauma-signs-and-strategies-for-coping#:~:text=Strategies%20for%20reducing%20risk%20of%20vicarious%20trauma#038;text=Take%20care%20of%20yourself%20emotionally,life%20balance%20%2D%20have%20outside%20interests.

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