Beyond Burnout: Helping Teachers, Nurses, Therapists & Lawyers Recover From Stress & Disillusionment
When author Cary Cherniss was doing his clinicals for his graduate degree in psychology, he was placed in various human service settings. As he became acquainted with the professional staff at these agencies, he saw that their work wasn't easy.
"Many went from being committed, idealistic helpers to exhausted, cynical functionaries who simply tried to make it through each day. They began to do things that they vowed they would never do." --Cherniss, p. 7, Beyond Burnout (1995, Routledge).
When he graduated and entered the professional working world, Cherniss also began to experience the same stress he'd witnessed among the staff where he had done his clinical work as a student. And he began to experience the same symptoms of burnout. As a university professor, he began to study the work environment of human service professionals.
Beyond Burnout is based on two of his studies. First he examined how newly-graduated professionals cope with on-the-job stress as novices. He included professionals from four different fields: poverty law, mental health, public health nursing, and teaching. There were 17 women and 9 men in his study. What were the findings?
After Cherniss published his study, he was asked if would later try to find those same professionals for follow-up research. Ten years later, he decided to do just that. What did he find? He found that some of the professionals had made "radical career changes" (p.12). For example, one social worker left the field for a successful real estate career, and another left social work for organic farming. But he also found that a few of the professionals managed to prevail through the stress.
Cherniss discusses some of the organizational dynamics which fuel professional burnout, but he explores in greatest detail the personal factors that lead to disillusionment and professional dissatisfaction within the stressful work environment.
This book makes for very interesting reading. Any fried social worker will be able to identify with the feelings of the burned out professionals studied by Cherniss. When you read this book, don't be surprised if you find yourself thinking, "Yeah, that's precisely how I feel!" This book will help you gain insight into your situation, and we highly recommend it to others. It is very good!
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