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Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

Burnout was cited as a principal driver of employee turnover by three-quarters of U.S. workers surveyed in 2006 by the online career site

Source: TrendWatcher: Addressing Worker Burnout, Institute for Corporate Productivity

The frontline worker

Addition treatment workers are vulnerable to burnout and compassion fatigue. 


As a career, counseling is recognized as emotionally demanding. Therapists are called upon to be empathic, understanding and giving, yet they must control their own emotions and responses in dealing with clients. When engaging with a client, clinicians are often at risk of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion.40

Addiction counselors are treating a very challenging patient population. These clients have complex medical issues, as well as legal, family, housing and employment problems. Workers, whose intention is to help, can get overly involved with (often very needy) patients. In addition, the job requires a huge amount of empathy, yet counselors must face client relapse and ambiguous success every day.

Other stressors occur because of an agency’s inability to implement measures to support staff in their long hours of work, couple with a lack of clear career paths.

In turn, counselors become completely drained (burned-out) and dissatisfied with their job. Eventually, they will seek other employment opportunities and unfortunately, end up leaving the remaining employees to carry even larger caseloads, which piles on more work-related stress!

This cycle must be broken. The well-being of the organization, individual and the addiction treatment and recovery field depends on how well these issues can be addressed.41


Follow the following links for:

Self Care
Compassion Stress and Burnout Signs
Case Studies
Steps for Care and Life Style Balance and the Specific Steps

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