SAGE Journal Articles
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Christopher, J. C., Christopher, S. E., Dunnagan, T., & Schure, M. (2006). Teaching self-care through mindfulness practices: The application of yoga, meditation, and qigong to counselor training. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 46(4), 494-509.
Faculty in counseling training programs often give voice to the importance of self-care for students during the training period and into practice after training is completed. However, few programs specifically address this issue in their curricula. To address this perceived need, a course was developed to provide students with (a) personal growth opportunities through selfcare practices and (b) professional growth through mindfulness practices in counseling that can help prevent burnout. A focus group assessed course impact on students who reported significant changes in their personal lives, stress levels, and clinical training.
Questions to Consider:
- Does your training program provide any structured programming for wellness and self care? Do you think a course like this would be helpful? Is there a student advocacy group for your program where you might consider proposing such self care programming or course work?
- What is the difference between self-care practices and mindfulness practices outlined in this article? As described in this article, would you find meditation or yoga to be the more helpful complement to your self-care efforts?
- If not provided to you, what steps have you taken to provide such opportunities for yourself? At this time, id self care a priority as you train?
Killian, K. D. (2008). Helping till it hurts? A multimethod study of compassion fatigue, burnout, and self-care in clinicians working with trauma survivors. Traumatology: An International Journal, 14(2), 32-44.
There is burgeoning interest in secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, and self-care in the helping professions. This multimethod study focused on therapists’ stress and coping in their work with trauma survivors, identifying factors related to resilience and burnout. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 20 clinicians subscribing to a systems perspective, and 104 clinicians were administered a questionnaire inquiring about their caseloads, trauma history, coping styles, emotional self-awareness, work stress, compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, and burnout. Interview data demonstrated that therapists detect job stress through bodily symptoms, mood changes, sleep disturbances, becoming easily distracted, and increased difficulty concentrating. Self-care strategies included processing with peers/supervisor, spirituality, exercise, and spending time with family. In the quantitative study, social support, work hours, and internal locus of control accounted for 41% of the variance in compassion satisfaction. Multiple regression procedures accounted for 54% of the variance in compassion fatigue and 74% of the variance in burnout. Implications for clinical training and organizational policy are discussed.
Questions to Consider:
- What emergent themes, including stress symptoms and coping strategies of helping professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma survivors, were revealed in this study?
- What were the individual and contextual factors that predict compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, and burnout in the sample of systemically oriented therapists working with trauma survivors who participated in this study?
- What are some of the factors that seem to protect helping professionals from the deleterious effects of secondary traumatization? What steps can you take to foster these factors for yourself? Are you currently at a site where you are likely to routinely work with trauma survivors? If not, can you foresee an event that might change that? How would you prepare yourself to do that work?
Skovholt, T. M., Grier, T. L., & Hanson, M. R. (2001). Career counseling for longevity: Self-care and burnout prevention strategies for counselor resilience. Journal of Career Development, 27(3), 167-176.
Balancing self-care and other-care is often a struggle for career counselors and others in the helping professions. The process of caring is made up of a constant series of empathic attachments, active involvements, and felt separations. The ability to continually engage in “the caring cycle” is important for success. However, the constant need to re-create the cycle of caring can lead to counselor depletion and burnout. This article provides a developmental framework for assisting career counselors to avoid depleted caring while prolonging their professional longevity. The model of self-care includes recognizing the hazards of “high touch” work, such as limited resources and constant one-way caring. Also addressed are specific means of professional and personal sustenance, such as maximizing experiences of professional success and balancing personal wellness throughout one's career.
Questions to Consider:
- Counselor training, for better or for worse, is predominantly other focused whereby you have spent most of your time learning to care for others, and most likely have spent relatively little time focused on caring for yourself. After reading this article, how can you keep that “other focus” from depleting your resources?
- Define “high touch” work? What are the hazards of high touch work as they pertain to a model of self care for counselors?
- What are the specific means of both professional and personal sustenance as discussed in this article? How can you begin cultivating these during your field placement?