Academic journal article Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research

Wellness and Burnout Prevention: Perceptions of a Group Supervision Intervention

Academic journal article Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research

Wellness and Burnout Prevention: Perceptions of a Group Supervision Intervention

Article excerpt

The 2009 Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) promotes personal development and wellness in their standards for counselor preparation. In 2003, the American Counseling Association (ACA) created a task force specifically to attend to the issue of professional counselor wellness and burnout. In response, the ACA regularly provides wellness training, assessments, strategies, and resources to its members (Lawson & Venart, 2005). The ACA Code of Ethics (2014), designed to guide professional counselors in ethical behavior, states that, "...counselors engage in self-care activities to maintain and promote their own emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being to best meet their professional responsibilities" (Section C). The Code of Ethics further specifies that counselors-intraining (CITs) monitor their level of wellness, seek assistance when necessary, and inform their program faculty when their impairment may interfere with their education. These documents and actions emphasize the importance of wellness in the counseling profession, and this is especially true for CITs, who need to develop healthy coping strategies to promote wellness.

Roscoe (2009) conducted a lengthy review of common definitions of wellness. The constructs most routinely identified were social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual components of wellness. Wellness, as defined by Myers, Sweeney, and Witmer (2000) is

A way of life oriented towards optimal health and well-being in which body, mind, and spirit are integrated by the individual to live life more fully within the human and natural community. Ideally, it is the optimum state of health and well-being that each individual is capable of achieving. (p. 252)

In other words, wellness is a state of health (mental and physical) that increases the individual's ability to meet his or her full potential. Striving toward wellness is a professional responsibility. Without wellness, counselors may be less likely to respond effectively to the needs of their clients (NewswaldPotter, Blackburn, & Noel, 2013). In fact, MacCluskie (2010) indicated that it is hypocritical to promote wellness for clients without practicing it for oneself. Although counselors are encouraged to self-monitor and manage their own wellness (ACA, 2014) they may also benefit from supervisory support.

The Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES, 2011) Best Practices in Clinical Supervision advise that supervisors routinely assess their supervisee's level of wellness and ability to provide services to clients. However, as Newswald-Potter et al. (2013) found, little information is available that provides details about how counselors or CITs maintain personal wellness. In their own action research study examining the wellness practices of licensed practitioners, Newswald et al. discovered balance to be the key to maintaining wellness. However, participants of their study identified balance in a variety of ways. Other themes that emerged in their study were relationships, health (physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional), fun, self- preservation, setting boundaries, an established professional self-concept, and awareness of limitations.

In an effort to intervene among CITs in particular, Wolf, Thompson, Thompson, and Smith-Adcock (2014) implemented a wellness program aimed at promoting wellness among masters and doctoral students enrolled in a counseling program. The results of parametric statistical tests indicated that the participants' (n=38) overall wellness improved because of the intervention. Additionally, three of the participants provided qualitative feedback noting increased awareness of the importance of self-care, a willingness to implement changes, and a focus on spirituality and balance. This latter theme is consistent with Newswald et al.'s (2013) findings, and highlights the importance of wellness interventions at the training level. …

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