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Burnout and Self-Care in Social Work: A Guidebook for Students and Those in Mental Health and Related Professions Paperback – July 30, 2015
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Burnout and Self-Care in Social Work is a vitally important and timely book by an extraordinary individual who has been on the frontlines of this issue for decades and writes with deep insight, clarity, and unparalleled empathy for all concerned. I was pleased to be president of Scribner when SaraKay published her first book.--Franklyn Rodgers, BS, University of Pennsylvania
Burnout and Self-Care in Social Work is an engrossing and comprehensive treatment of a most critical and complex topic in social work today. Service providers will undoubtedly benefit from SaraKay Smullens's insights into recognizing and overcoming burnout and equipping oneself with the tools to build self-care into the heart of one's practice. This fundamental self-actualization is the cornerstone of any truly successful individual within the social work profession and beyond.--John L. Jackson, Jr., PhD, Dean, School of Social Policy & Practice, Richard Perry University Professor, University of Pennsylvania
About the Author
SaraKay Smullens, LCSW, ACSW, BCD, CGP, CFLE, whose private and pro bono clinical social work practice is in Philadelphia, is a certified group psychotherapist and family life educator. She is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from NASW-PA, which recognized her long-standing community organization, advocacy, and activism, as well as the codification of patterns of emotional abuse and the development of a therapeutic model to address it. SaraKay is the founder of the Philadelphia initiative The Sabbath of Domestic Peace, which identified clergy as a "missing link" in addressing domestic violence, devoting itself to clergy involvement and education that prayer alone would not save lives and that couples in distress, due to abuse and violence, could not be seen together. SaraKay has published in peer-reviewed journals, is the best-selling author of Whoever Said Life Is Fair?: A Guide to Growing Through Life's Injustices and Setting YourSelf Free: Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Abuse in Family, Friendships, Work, and Love, and blogs for The Huffington Post. Her professional papers and memorabilia are divided between the Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Goucher College, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. SaraKay's professional life continues to be devoted to highlighting destructive societal forces through education, advocacy, and activism.
Top customer reviews
This subject cannot be ignored as the pressures of contemporary life continue to mount. Whether your interest in reading it is professional or personal, this book should prove both beneficial and enlightening.
From the first page of this book, one appreciates this project as a labor of love. After 30+ years of passionately devoting herself to the practice of social work, she shares her extensive experience in the field to inspire, support and guide other mental health professionals whose daily work is to apply their aptitude for empathy and professional compassion to help heal their client's emotional suffering as well as problems-in-living. This task is not an easy one, the author explains, without the risk of becoming depleted, hardened or swallowed up.
In her book, Smullens speaks to her readers with compassion and a direct "say it as it is" style. She lays out the fact that the talents that bring social workers and therapists to this field also make them susceptible to the emotional contagion and over-involvement with their clients' pain. These are feelings, she says, that many understand all too well from their unresolved pasts. To avoid what the author refers to as "compassion fatigue," and burnout, she stresses the importance of examining one's own life, reflecting on how one thinks about and approaches the work, and maintaining "effective emotional boundaries." She calls these "gifts to the self," and which help the social worker or clinician "stay with" their clients empathically, without "taking on" their problems and personal suffering. Doing so, she believes will lessen the potential for countertransference pitfalls and vicarious traumatic stress.
Toward this end, Smullens offers readers a framework to reflect on personal experiences in the workplace, replete with emotional tools and concrete strategies to be used as a springboard for each to find their own unique ways to replenish and maintain personal well-being. These needs for self-care within the professional, personal, social and physical arenas are explored in depth.
In the conclusion of Smullens' heartfelt book, she states "People will disappoint you. Life will hurt you. But if you have something that is completely yours to invest in, something you are passionate about, you can rise above pain and find personal joy and loving connection. For me, that something is social work."
These words, and the wisdom one will discover in SaraKay Smullens' exceptional "must read" book will stimulate the minds and hearts of all mental health providers, whether new to the field, or seasoned practitioners. It will not only inspire, but also promises to enrich the reader's career and personal life so as to allow it to thrive and prosper.
Ellen Singer Coleman, LCSW
As a retired teacher, I would recommend this book for comfort and compassion to many in the Education field.