ACA Blog

Joan Phillips
May 26, 2010


This is not burnout. Not secondary trauma. Not even compassion fatigue. It is plain and simple the situation of working too much in too short a time. I don't think I'm the only helping professional to have this- nor even the only human being to. Every profession and vocation can experience overload- too much work.

In times of recession I am prone to think to myself "just be glad you have good employment!" However, too much thinking like that just adds to the overload. How does this affect my work? Not all negative as one might at first think. I believe I develop efficiencies that stay useful long after overload lessens. For example, ways of keeping track of appointments, following up, billing, etc. that serve me well even in lighter workload times. Another positive benefit of overload is increased income! Let's don't forget that. But there are some negatives as well- inadvertent double-booking of clients, lack of ability or time to respond to phone calls in a timely manner, slower paperwork overall (since client work always trumps paperwork).

The difference to me between overload and burnout is my own affective response. Sometimes I get enlivened and excited about the glut of work- not so when burnout is present. Additionally, the positive stress of overload can increase my creative thinking- thinking on my feet or on the go sometimes yields new ideas yet untried. This too is absent when my condition is more akin to burnout. In overload I can empathize with my clients overload as well- maybe that's the ultimate genesis of this particular blog. I have so many overloaded clients now- parents with too much work in too short a time. That is, their job of parenting includes end-of-school parties, soccer tournaments, field days, field trips, cleaning out lockers, driving kids to events, graduations, parties, etc. etc. and all this on top of the paid jobs they hold as well. Overload! Let's sing it with vigor, but be grateful when the song is done. Some other time maybe I will blog about the slow times.... but right now I'm too busy!

Joan Phillips is a counselor, art therapist, and marriage and family therapist. She maintains a private practice and teaches at the University of Oklahoma.

Contact Name

Contact Title

Contact Email

Contact Phone

Related Info


  1. RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
    RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
    Toolbar's wrapper 
    Content area wrapper
    RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
    It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
    Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
    RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.
Join Now

  • Learn more about your specialty—join a division
  • Maximize your Professional Development
  • Stay ahead of the educational learning curve
  • Advocate for the counseling care of tomorrow
  • Expand your networking connections
  • More Member Benefits