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  • Burnout Treatment : 4 Jungian Insights

    burnout treatment

    What is the right kind of burnout treatment?  Burnout is the state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, often work related stress.  It often occurs when a person feels overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands, which can be from work, or sources such as long term caregiving, or heavy family demands.  Burnout leads to disengagement, emotional blunting or numbing, helplessness and hopelessness, loss of motivation, and detachment and depression.

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    • Honestly Acknowledge Emptiness and Loss.

    Often burnout sufferers have a great sense of hollowness or emptiness.  Only through acknowledging what has been lost can they move beyond this.  What do I hope will come back?  Do I remember times in the past that were full of vitality and joy?  It’s important to ask: what do I really yearn for, at this stage in my life?

    • Can You be with Yourself, Instead of Caught up in Doing?

    Often those in burnout are so totally caught up in work or tasks that they have little time for themselves.  This is particularly so with recreational time, and also time with their own thoughts and feelings.   It may well be essential to take that time, even if you meet a lot of inner resistance and guilt feelings.  It can be especially important to spend time away from technology: laptops, cells, smartphones, and especially social media, so that you spend time talking to you, not others.

    • Who am I Now?

    Work identity, or persona, is not the same as your real identity.  To try and understand who you are in yourself, outside of your work or other role can be key to recovering your lost vitality.  To truly sift reactions, thoughts and feelings, in order to distinguish between your roles, and your own deepest feeling self takes patience and effort, but can connect you again to your real life.

    • What does the Unconscious Say?

    People are unaware of their unconscious self, and its reaction to events in their lives.  In burnout, much is going on in the unconscious levels of the self.  Often, this is reflected in the dreams of the burnout sufferer, and also in reactions to daily events that the sufferer may experience, without any clear idea of from where these feelings or thoughts might come.  Often the unconscious can shed a great of light on conflicts and the nature of the individual’s burnout reaction.

    A therapist with /a-midlife-transition expertise may help greatly in the healing process, and with bringing material to consciousness.

    Have you experienced burnout?  If so, how did, or does, it affect you?  I would welcome your comments.

    Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville and Mississauga Ontario



    PHOTO: © Pumba1 |
    © 2011 Brian Collinson
    2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga )
    1. Will


      March 21, 2012 at 8:44 am -

      Hello Brian,

      I came across your article whilst researching burn out treatment.

      You asked comments, here goes:

      I’m self employed in the construction industry. Thus a notoriously stressfull and high risk work environment. The global recession took its toll on all, and when the work started coming in again late 2010 I took on as much as I could (and couldnt).
      Being used to dealing with volumes of logistics I never panic or feel stressed, just busy and perhaps over extended.

      Late last year I got Scliritis in my left eye, which recurred after treatment. The recurrance prompted testing. I have rheumatoid arthritis, an auto immune disease.

      It has become clear though that what happened was burn out, which triggered the under laying RA which had been sitting below the surface.
      I only really took notice of the burn out facet many months after diagnosis of RA and being on treatment. It was then that I started becoming depressed, battling to deal with the basics, where the general day to day realities of my working life, which has always been par for the course, now overwhelm me. I have become a ineffectual manager of my bussiness and procrastinate on everything. And I do not really care much either.

      How does one recover from this?


      1. Brian C
        March 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm -

        Thank you very much for your thoughtful and clearly heartfelt comment, Will. It’s clear from what you write that you have had a very thorough and deep experience of burnout, in combination with some very serious physical issues. I think that you have touched on a very important part of the reality of burnout, when you say, “battling to deal with the basics, where the general day to day realities of my working life, which has always been par for the course, now overwhelm me.” This represents the very heart of burnout.

        While what I say must not be taken to be psychotherapy or counselling, as we cannot realistically do either of those things in the context of comments on a blog post, and without my getting to know much more about your individual situation, and who you are, Will, I think that we can say this much: the key to addressing burnout will be concerned with getting to know who it is that you really are, at this point in your life, and what it is that you really value here in the present, as opposed to what it is that you might have valued at times in the past in your life Depending on the individual, this may involve getting inside their depression, understanding the sense of loss that the individual experiences in a very individual way, and understanding what is happening in the unconscious. The answer to the life dilemma of the person with burnout will inevitably be a very individual one, ands will involve individual discovery.

        Thank you for your comments, and for sharing your situation in such an open way, Will.

    2. julia


      November 28, 2012 at 11:54 am -

      Hi Brian, I have been battling what I think is burnout and chronic pain for 6years. Do you know a really good psychotherapist in the Vancouver BC area. If not how do I find one..

      1. Brian C
        November 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm -

        Hello Julia, thank you very much for your comment. I am aware of some very good therapists in the Vancouver area, and I will send you their contact information via email, if that would be alright. Wishing you all the very best in your search for some healing in the very important areas of burnout and chronic pain.

    3. julia


      November 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm -

      Thanks Brian, that would be great if you could email me contacts. Thanks for a very good article.

      1. Brian C
        November 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm -

        Glad you enjoyed the article, Julia. I will send you along that information. All the very best, ~Brian

    4. Liz


      December 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm -

      Hi Brian,
      Thank you for addressing this issue. I worked with the homeless in San Francisco for 3 1/2 years and experienced major burnout (partly due to two breakups as well). It’s been nearly 3 years since I left there and I’ve come a long way but am still not quite recovered. I find that the biggest issue for me is whether or not I feel emotionally safe, because I had to deal with a lot of conflict and that totally goes against my personality (I hate conflict!). Now I’ve been moving around a lot with my job and am feeling like I’m going crazy! What would you recommend I can do to try to stay sane during my travels (I think they will come to an end next year sometime which is good!)

      1. Brian C
        December 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm -

        Thank you for your comments, Liz. I can well imagine that the kind of work that you’re describing might cause major burnout. I also hear what you are saying about the on-going concern you have about feeling emotionally safe, and how this might stem from having to deal on an on-going basis with a lot of conflict.

        Firstly, I would wonder whether your experiences working with the homeless might not have left you vicariously traumatized to some degree. This is a danger that all of us working in caregiving professions have to be aware of on an on-going basis. It might be appropriate to get some assistance in dealing with this, and with setting up and staying with appropriate measures for self care.

        The fact that you’ve been moving around a lot related to work might clearly be contributing to a sense of burnout as well, and I think that it might be entirely appropriate to speak with a counsellor or therapist around this issue as well. It may well be that you are in a place where you need the sense of security that “belonging” to a fixed location may provide, at least for a certain amount of time. Without actually meeting you and discussing this in detail, it is impossible to know for sure, but I think that this might well be an area that you might want to explore with the right kind of helping professional.

        If it should turn out to be an issue related to secure base, I think that anything that you could do to enhance a sense of stability and control in the midst of your mobility would be a valuable thing. Again, my comments in this context are not are not psychotherapy, counselling or Jungian therapy, and I would recommend that you get in touch with a properly qualified psychotherapist to check this out.

        I hope that you find these comments useful. Thank you for your questions, Liz!

    5. Darlene O'Brien

      Darlene O'Brien

      December 23, 2012 at 11:44 am -

      I am in the final despair stage of burnout and will be quitting a job I used to love next month. I will also be moving from Arkansas to Florida. I am an unhappy person, in an unhappy home and town, working in an unhappy facility.
      I had a manager for 5 1/2 years who was a dishonest bully and when he was fired, I became the manager. I rose to this position from the lowest part-time position in less than 6 years. The administration and other offices judge the facility based on their experience with the former manager. The staff in my facility have been conditioned to function as prison guards in an emergency shelter for kids 8 – 18. I have made physical changes to the facility to help overcome this, but working as closely as we do with the outside offices, their mindset continues to be that we are red-headed, bastard, step-children of the lowest class. The final straw came last week when the agency assistant director told me she finally understood those of us at the shelter are people too. Not to go on too long, but this is important, the agency Christmas party is held at our shelter and staff from six counties attend (about 40 people) My “people” work hard to make the place cheery and bright, provide food, and do all the clean-up. Last week, at the very end of the day before the party, the agency director sent me an e-mail that clearly dis-invited the majority of the shelter staff.
      The former manager did little other than keep attendance records, protect his goon squad, and hand out punishment to those he felt threatened his authority. He was terminated after a physical altercation with a 14 year old male he backed into a corner. This is a situation myself and other caring staff had warned administration was inevitable. Since I have been manager, I have been required to write grants, write policy for staff and clients, train staff in a 42 hour professional certification process and many other duties as assigned. I continue to be involved in the care and treatment plans for our shelter kids. In short, I am held to a much higher standard without respect or understanding for the task of changing the mindset of the entire organization.
      I hope this was not too involved but I appreciate the opportunity to share.

      1. Brian C
        December 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm -

        Thank you for your comments, Darlene. This certainly sounds like a situation of extreme burnout. I certainly hear you when you say that ” I am an unhappy person, in an unhappy home and town, working in an unhappy facility.” And from everything you describe, it certainly sounds like the work conditions that you’ve been dealing with have been very, very difficult indeed. I hope that your move to Florida will give you a chance to focus on some clearly well -deserved self-care, and will give you the chance to once again get your bearings.

        I continue to believe that the question of meaning is very important here. I think that it’s essential to see that you have obviously given a very great deal to trying to bring about progress and change the character of the institution. You would have to tell me, but I am betting that those efforts have borne some genuine positive fruit for at least some of the kids who pass through the shelter.

        In this respect,

          your efforts and your passion have real, genuine meaning.

        Don’t let ANYONE take that away from you!

        It may well be that the time has now come when there must be change, to enable you to get beyond the sense of burnout. That’s important to acknowledge and it’s important not to beat yourself up for the fact that you need this. We’re all only human, and we can all only give to a certain point, and then we need to care for ourselves, and maybe have some one else care for us a little.

        Thank you for your comments, Darlene, and very best wishes on the next phase of your life journey.

    6. Liz


      December 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm -

      Thank you Brian, I appreciate you taking the time to respond, you hit the nail on the head!!

      1. Brian C
        December 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm -

        I’m glad if what we talked about was of some use, Liz. I hope that 2013 will be a year of self-care, meaning and stability for you. Thanks again for your comments! All the very best.

    7. Liz


      December 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm -

      Thanks, you too!

    8. michelle


      June 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm -

      HI Brian
      I have burn out due to long pediod of stress with a company that could not care about people , only profit. I am in my 6th week of batteling tiredness, along with many other symptoms, how long does it take to feel normal again.
      Thank you

      1. Brian C
        June 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm -

        Hello Michelle,

        Thank you very much for your comment. I’m very sorry to hear that your employer’s motivations do not include a respectful, grateful and motivating attitude towards its employees, and, in particular, towards you.

        To answer your question about the duration of burnout, its length depends a lot upon the particular circumstance in which you find yourself. A lot depends on whether anything in your life has changed the particular patterns and circumstances that have led to the burnout. Because it’s essential that the factors that have led to the burnout be removed from your life, so that a process of healing and renewal can begin. Once these factors are gone, and you find yourself more rested and less stressed, then perhaps other things can begin to come into your life. But it all depends on altering the burnout-inducing circumstances.

        Thanks once again for your comment, Michelle!

    9. Michelle


      June 18, 2013 at 2:18 am -

      Hi Brian
      Thank you very much for the guidence and help , you have helped me very much
      Kind Rgds

    10. Marty


      June 26, 2013 at 7:37 pm -

      Hi Brian,

      I just read your article above. I find it interesting since originally I didn’t believe in burnout. I believed it was some kind of excuse that people used for not working hard enough- for not pushing themselves beyond their limits- an excuse for insomnia, poor diet or for getting themselves sick with mono or something like that. After reading this and other articles, I see that it is more prominent than I thought. Still, I notice that burnout is not an official disorder according to the DSM on the other sites that I searched.

      I am a tennis player. I got serious later than my other competition and have been trying to catch up in tournaments and practice for a few years now. I have gotten more and more serious ever since I started playing at age 6. I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers where it said that in order to achieve a certain level in anything, you have to put a certain number of hours in. I found myself so far behind from my goals that I doubled my efforts. For example, in the past year, I have put in and recorded 931 hours of playing, practice, conditioning and analyzing tennis (an average of about 18hrs per week). I have known about and have tried to prevent burnout with a couple of separate days off every month, a healthy diet, 7-9 hours of sleep each night and other stuff too. I didn’t believe in burnout- I believed that I wouldn’t be burnt out until I was hospitalized.

      I have had my ups and downs but for the past 2.5 months its been all downhill. I am in the worst losing streak of my life and have started to hate the sport that I play, comparing myself and this game to “America and the Vietnam War”. I see this sport that I may have once loved as a terrible game and am now broken physically and mentally. I am exhausted physically while being frustrated over the severity of my play. On the court I get fed up while off the court the losses are getting in my head. I feel that I have sacrificed a lot of time with family and friends (not school luckily). I now feel that I play solely for the results. I have been dying for the wins since sometimes I feel that I have received the “short end of the stick” considering the fact that I believe I have worked my butt off on the court.

      I must keep on going. I aspire to be recruited by a college that I want to go to. I cannot stop playing now (the summer is the most important time of the year for recruitment and improving) and I fear that taking too long of a break will only hurt my game and hold me back (I haven’t taken more than five days off from playing in nearly 2 years). Plus, if I were to take a long break now or stop playing, I would be letting down my coach, my parents, myself and my dreams and aspirations. I won’t settle for the mediocre college or just try to be a walk-on.

      What can I do to help? I feel that I am way to young for this.
      Thank you a lot, Marty.

      1. Brian C
        June 30, 2013 at 1:27 am -

        Thanks for your comments, Marty. Yes, “burnout” is not yet an actual DSM classification, but that doesn’t mean that it is not a real phenomenon. There was a time for instance, when PTSD was not a part of the DSM — nonetheless the phenomenon of PTSD was still real back then, and powerfully affected many peoples’ lives.

        It seems to me that the more important question to ask yourself is, “Am I experiencing burnout?” In this context, another important question might be, “How do I really feel about tennis, at this point?”, and yet another might be, “Am I prepared to acknowledge what I really feel, at this point, and to accept my feelings as a reality?”

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