SWK-4480 Pre-practicum

There is a reason you have chosen this degree path. Most likely, you want to qualify for helping positions/roles that help people on a higher level. With advancement in this field also comes great responsibility, and sometimes emotionally heavy work! It is critical that you learn how to check in with yourself in terms of your level of self-care, and compassion. We are typically the worst at taking care of ourselves, so much so that NASW has added a section to the Code of Ethics regarding self-care. Simplified, self-care is the art of proactively taking care of yourself to ensure that you can keep doing what you love to do for years to come! Ever look at a social worker, or talk to one and wonder how they are still so passionate about their work when others seem to be bitter and resentful of their work? The key to happiness in this field, and the key to remaining effective for our clients, is self-care! Oftentimes, you will hear people talk about burnout, or compassion fatigue. These are real threats in our world and can be dangerous for ourselves, as well as our clients. Not sure what we mean by these? Before you dive into the lecture materials, take a moment to complete the Life Stress Test and the Compassion Fatigue Self-Test: An Assessment to increase your own self-awareness. Be sure to keep a copy of your completed assessments for your own records. You may see these again in later courses, as it is important to use these at different points in your life. Think about it, the stressors of the past year may be totally different 6 months from now.

Once you have completed these, watch the lecture and review the NASW PowerPoint to learn more about Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, & Self-Care.

2021 Revisions NASW to the Code of EthicsDownload 2021 Revisions NASW to the Code of Ethics

Compassion Fatigue AssessmentDownload Compassion Fatigue Assessment

Life Stress TestDownload Life Stress Test

Answer the following in the Discussion Board:

1. What did you learn about yourself after completing the Life Stress Test and the Compassion Fatigue Self-Test?

2. What are 3 things you do, or could do, to practice self-care?

3. Talk about your experience with compassion fatigue or burnout. This could be about you, or someone, or something you have witnessed.


Discussion Board Response:

  1. After completing the Life Stress Test and the Compassion Fatigue Self-Test, I learned a few important things about myself. Firstly, I realized that I have been experiencing higher levels of stress than I initially recognized. The Life Stress Test helped me identify various stressors in my life that have been impacting my well-being, such as work-related pressures, financial concerns, and personal relationships. Additionally, the Compassion Fatigue Self-Test shed light on the emotional toll of my work and highlighted areas where I may be vulnerable to compassion fatigue. It made me more aware of the importance of monitoring my emotional state and practicing self-care to prevent burnout.
  2. In terms of practicing self-care, I have identified three key strategies that I either currently engage in or could incorporate into my routine:

    a. Prioritize Regular Exercise: Exercise has always been a powerful outlet for stress relief and relaxation for me. I enjoy activities like yoga, hiking, and cycling, which help me clear my mind and rejuvenate my body. Making time for regular exercise, even during busy periods, can significantly improve my overall well-being.

    b. Establish Boundaries: Setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and preventing burnout. I need to learn to say no to additional commitments when my plate is already full and prioritize activities that bring me joy and fulfillment outside of work. This may involve limiting work-related emails and phone calls during non-work hours and carving out dedicated time for relaxation and leisure activities.

    c. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Reflection: Incorporating mindfulness practices such as meditation and journaling into my daily routine can help me stay grounded and present in the moment. Taking time to reflect on my thoughts, emotions, and experiences allows me to identify any signs of burnout or compassion fatigue early on and take proactive steps to address them.

  3. While I haven’t personally experienced full-blown burnout or compassion fatigue, I have witnessed colleagues in the helping professions struggle with these issues. I have observed how prolonged exposure to the suffering and trauma of clients can gradually erode one’s sense of empathy and compassion, leading to feelings of emotional exhaustion and detachment. Witnessing the toll that this takes on individuals’ well-being has reinforced the importance of prioritizing self-care and seeking support when needed. Additionally, I have seen how organizational factors such as high caseloads, inadequate resources, and lack of support can contribute to burnout among helping professionals. It underscores the need for systemic changes within the workplace to promote staff well-being and prevent burnout.
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