Thursday, January 30, 2014

Avoiding burn-out

We were asked by a new Facebook friend how we avoid getting burned out.  This is so important, and I can't believe we haven't addressed it yet, so thank you new friend!

Most of us who have worked in this field, or most positions working with children, feel burned out at some point or another.  CBRS can be a very difficult job, and burn out is something that sort of comes with the territory.  For me, I feel a lull about every 6 months, and having been in this job for 3 and a half years,(and working with children for over a decade), I have a lot of practice getting through those slumps.

Here are some things that work for me, even the little things can help, especially when working through the winter and being inside all the time!

1.  Find a new project, board/card game or activity to do with your clients. Pinterest is a great recourse for activities, and so is our blog:)  Sometimes even going back through your previous activities can work, repetition is good, and you can do the same with new clients.

2.  Bring your clients to the gym.  Lately I have been doing a lot of research on exercise and the brain.  Everyone can benefit from some exercise.  It is the best thing you can do to relieve stress, and sometimes these kiddos just need to burn some energy.  The YMCA is one of the best things I have done to get through the winter, and can get expensive, but you can also help the family fill out financial assistance, then can go with them for free.

3.  Exercise and take care of yourself!  Drink more water, eat better, get outside.  A happy CBRS worker is a better CBRS worker.

4.  This is a lonely job.  Find someone you can talk to who knows the job and what you are going through.  VENT!  I have a vent buddy, her name is Stacey, and on days where I am the most frustrated, she has definitely gotten me through it.  Find some activities you can do with your co-workers, get to know them better, and you will find having more of a connection with others will help you like your job better. Try throwing a party, starting an exercise group, or even a Facebook group to share ideas.

5.  Find different forms of media to work on skills.  Find a cool video, check out a website together, or of course books are always great.  I have started reading to my clients out of chapter books, pausing to talk about social issues, how the characters handle situations, and this is overall a soothing and relaxing activity. The longevity and commitment to these books also helps with focus, listening and patience.

6.  Take a break!  It is difficult and frustrating to try to engage and at times entertain your client for an entire session.  Take a break!  I help my clients work hard, while helping them understand they are working toward some free time.  I get more work out of them, and they stay motivated.  During this time is also my break, and this is what I tell them, "your break is also my break."  At times, yes they still struggle to entertain themselves, but it is important for kids to be bored-it forces them to use their imaginations and problem solve. And just in case, I always have worksheets as an alternative if they refuse to entertain themselves, this is usually motivation enough to find something to do.

7.  Try a different schedule.  Switch it up,  come up with a schedule you write down with a client and follow through with.  This has really helped me, they know what's coming next, and it helps them know what they are working on.
Here's an example of a two hour schedule I've done with clients:
20 min:  Soothing activity (such as drawing, painting, play-dough) while talking about the week.
10 min: break to get activity ready.
30 min:  Work on a goal, activity having to do with treatment plan.
10 min: free play.
25 min:  card or board game or reading.
5 min:  debrief, review goals worked toward-break out the goal cards, reward chart, or discuss how to implement this at home.
10 min:  exercise, stretching, walk, etc.
10 min: break.

8.  Check calendars in your community for events.  I have found things going on at the libraries, art museum, community center, learning centers, Barnes and Noble, parks, and many other places, so it's worth the research.  Hello social skills!  It's also worth the research to check deals you can get at these and other places.

These are some things that work for me, but if you have more ideas, please comment below, or message us with what helps you!


  1. Thank you for this post it has really lifted my spirits. I hope other's get as much out of it as I did!

    1. We are so happy to hear it helped! Thank you : )

  2. Thank you so much for that post!! I am an elementary school counselor and I am TOTALLY burnt out right now. We have had so many snow days but I am so ready for a break!! Thank you for the tips! This is my first year as a counselor and I truly love my job but I am now struggling to find sources to help my students...maybe it's my burn out. I have recently joined a gym and that work out has been helping immensely!! Thank you!!