VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
When it All Hits the Fan: Helping Counselors Build Resilience and Avoid Burnout
Claudia J. Sadler-Gerhardt and Davia L. Stevenson
It costs to care for others. Helping others can be painful for the helper. Hearing stories of pain, sorrow, and suffering on a daily basis is described by Skovholt, Grier, and Hanson as an occupational hazard for members of a “high touch” profession, such as counselors, nurses, teachers, and social workers (2001, p. 168). Counselors work with clients who have experienced all kinds of trauma, including sexual victimization, war, chronic illnesses, violence, earthquakes or hurricanes, and terrorist attacks, to name but a few. Counselors in community mental health experience increased case loads along with decreased resources and funding cuts. Managed care providers authorize fewer billable session hours while mental and emotional disorders are more frequent and more severe. Societal stressors such as unemployment, financial crises, and the vast numbers of returning veterans who may be injured or suffering from mental or emotional disorders are further burdening an already under resourced health care system. In addition, counselors may also have a personal history of their own traumatic life experiences which can increase their susceptibility for emotional arousal to their clients’ stories of trauma (Lawson & Myers, 2011; Lawson & Venart, 2005).