Surviving Social Work Burnout: Prevention Strategies & Advice
Discover what burnout means to social workers, learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms, and get resources and expert advice for preventing burnout in yourself and others.
Last Updated: 05/11/2022
Clinical social worker
Janet Philbin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Hypnotherapist and Certified Conscious Parenting Coach. Janet helps adults heal from the emotional pain and trauma of their past. She is the owner of Janet Philbin, ACSW a private psychotherapy and hypnotherapy practice. For 21 years Janet has been successfully helping people recover from their emotional wounds and change their lives with the power of transformational healing and hypnotherapy.
Social workers offer strong, compassionate help for individuals and families experiencing a variety of life’s challenges. From working in the foster care system to helping patients and families through hospice care, social workers engage with people experiencing upheaval and change in their lives. In caring for so many people in so many ways, however, social workers may find themselves experiencing the symptoms of burnout. This is true both for professionals with years of experience and for students in social work programs who are just beginning their careers.
Fortunately, there are real, concrete solutions for preventing social work burnout. It may not always be simple, but with genuine self-care and a helping hand, burnout can be prevented and treated. Learn how you can identify social worker burnout, find the tools and techniques needed to overcome it, and gain expert advice from experienced social workers.
Signs of Social Work Burnout
For most social workers, every day brings new challenges. As a social worker, you may be called upon to deal with people and families in significant crises while also helping people struggling with the challenges of everyday life.
When a social worker experiences burnout, they may become emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted from the long-term worries and stressful events often dealt with on the job. Burnout may be cumulative and brought on by the day-to-day challenges of helping clients work through their difficulties, or it may be triggered by one particular event that leaves a social worker feeling drained. Burnout is not just reserved for social workers, however. People in all helping professions feel it at one time or another in their careers. Though burnout is a normal reaction to prolonged stress, in the vast majority of cases, it’s temporary and manageable.
The first crucial step to surviving and preventing social worker burnout is understanding what it is and being able to recognize the symptoms. Here’s what you need to know as a social worker or social work students.
Advice from a Social Worker on Spotting Burnout
Alisha Powell, Ph.D., LCSW graduated from Walden University with a doctoral degree in social psychology. She completed her graduate studies in social work, receiving her MSW at the University of Denver, and her undergraduate studies in social work, earning her BSW at Oakwood University. Alisha completed a post-graduate certificate in marriage and family therapy at Denver Family Institute. She has experience working in a variety of settings, including long-term care, hospitals, outpatient clinics, residential centers, and hospice. Alisha currently works as an outpatient therapist and adjunct professor.
Burnout Survival: Tools, Techniques, and Talking
While burnout is common, it doesn’t need to be. While the job can certainly be stressful at times, knowing the risks of burnout can help you through it and prevent it from getting severe or even happening in the first place. Here are some tools and techniques you can use to help stave off burnout or reduce its symptoms.
Discussing Burnout with a Licensed Social Worker
clinical social worker
Janet Philbin is a licensed clinical social worker, certified hypnotherapist, and certified conscious parenting coach. Janet helps adults heal from the emotional pain and trauma of their past. She is the owner of Janet Philbin, ACSW, a private psychotherapy and hypnotherapy practice. For 21 years Janet has been successfully helping people recover from their emotional wounds and change their lives with the power of transformational healing and hypnotherapy.