Inspiration vs. burnout

A subject raised recently in our logotherapy training course was burnout One of the causes of professional burnout in psychotherapists is emotional depletion.

From the above link: “Therapists deal primarily with people in crisis and pain. They are supposed to offer these people support, empathy…or advice. They are expected to give endlessly while expecting nothing in return, except the fee. Not surprisingly, this results in practitioners’ emotional depletion, in the therapists’ sense that there is nothing more they can give to themselves or to anyone else…[They wonder] whether or not they are being truly effective and helpful…Patients often put therapists on pedestals…After being an expert and helper for many hours, some therapists find it hard to leave the therapeutic or analytic stance behind…”

Based on the above, I think that what gets burnt is the ego.

Although logotherapists have egos as much as anyone else, logotherapy fosters an attitude that’s much more likely to leave ego at the door.

In our class discussion, we weren’t suggesting how to avoid the stress of burnout or what to do when it happens. We were discussing the logotherapeutic encounter.

We said that in logotherapy there is always a third presence in the room. If we are talking to each other without something beyond both of us we’re having a dialogue of monologues, as Frankl used to say.

This brings a different energy into the room. I am listening together with you to hear what is required of you in your life situation. It’s a fallacy to think I’m sitting in the seat of control and wisdom. The liberating fact is that it’s not in my control. I’m only a facilitator.

As a therapist I am aware that this client was brought across my path in a providentially arranged meeting and I am here in the service of the One who has commissioned me. The result is not in my hands. There is a higher power much greater than you or I.

Suffering is an opportunity for you as the client to show what you’re made of and to use resources you never knew you had. If we can rise up to our true spirituality we will feel something very life-giving, even in the face of dying. Futile attempts to cope zap the energy from therapist and client alike. God is saying to us “Stop coping! Feel the pain and agony but live!”

It is life-giving:

• to become more aware and notice everything that is beautiful in life.
• to see the pieces of the puzzle of your life make some sort of sense, that you are here for a purpose
• to see that you always, in every single situation and up to the last minute of life have something of infinite value to give. – You can heal relationships, discover meaning and teach others. (I think of the infinite meaning in the word my father shared with his last dying breath – ACCEPT.)

I’ve found that not only am I not depleted emotionally as a logotherapist. I’m invigorated at the end of the hour by an encounter that means something to me. I’m inspired by the client’s courage, convictions, and determination. I’m not supposed to join you in futile attempts to cope. I’m supposed to join you period.

Batya Yaniger

This entry was posted in Healing process, logotherapy, Personal experiences, Therapeutic skills and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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