Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Burn-out Avoidance in Social Work

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

Self-Care in social work-an oxymoron? I do not think so. As professionals in social work it is our duty to ourselves and our clients/patients to provide self-care to ourselves.

If we are highly stressed or steps away from ‘burn out’ how can we perform our role properly?

Yet, I know many social workers and others in the ‘helping profession’ who lack the inclination, the skills, the knowledge and/or perhaps the willingness to seek ways to minimize stress.

Take your lunch hour, take mini-breaks and visit with colleagues-joke around at work, take your vacation time and actually take a vacation to replenish your ‘batteries’ per se. Engage in hobbies that are unrelated to your work-volunteer, crafts, sports, etc. Make a point to unwind at the end of the day and I do not mean by watching the news! When you leave work, actually leave work, as in focus on your life and interests outside of work.

Family and friends are very important in this role as well.

At the same time re-evaluate your professional interests-are you still passionate about your job? Is there something missing? Is it time to update your ‘tool kit’ as in learning new techniques or skills that will enhance your current job?

If you do not look forward to going to work in the morning ask yourself the question, ‘Why not?’

Sometimes being creative and coming up with new ideas to approach your clients with works as well.

Please feel free to pass on other ways related to self-care for social workers to me.

*Initially posted on

*October 24, 2012