TEACHERS’ BURNOUT AND THE TREATMENT OF IT IN SUPERVISION GROUP
Institute of Psychology
Usually, building interpersonal relationships plays a large part in human sphere. Under normal circumstances if it is not burning with a blazing intensity but rather it is a smoldering amber. If it goes down sharply, we may talk about burnout. Of course, it is not necessary to be burned out. Syndrome is being developed or not, it only depends on the personal qualities of the individual. As specific psychosocial parameters are decisive, obviously these factors either facilitate or block the development of the syndrome. On the one hand burnout is an occupational hazard , but on the other it is caused by exhaustion.
· to some extent physical and emotional exhaustion,
· social behavior problems, especially alienation among co-workers,
· mental impairment: the individual takes strong, negative feelings towards himself or herself,
· organizational inefficiency due to the cut down achievement and depressed black mood,
Burnout can compare with acid: it not only burns a hole in the pot, but also burns everything else that is connected with.
The description of burnout: first of all there are thoughts and feelings such as anxiety, frustration, anger, apathy and so on which derive from the effect of events and experiences, and afterwards come psychological responses: the alarm and exhaustion phase in the conformity process. Finally, the typical symptoms of burnout set in: such as lack of respect for others, cynicism, less attention to family and job, absence from work, to change job status etc.
According to Pines and her colleagues burnout is a physical fatigue, mental and emotion exhaustion. The individuals are physically in a state of fatigue, in addition they feel completely helpless, loss of hope and end up depleting their energy and losing touch with themselves and others. They show a very negative attitude to their work and life. Burnout arises from the feeling of unhappiness , disappointment and useless hunting after pretty high expectations. In extreme cases, the individuals can not communicate their ideas to other people and do not have a good relationship with them. All members of helping professions (including teachers, social workers, nurses etc.) are in danger who are expected to take on other people’s problems and responsibilities for a long time. During their work they cannot achieve notable successes quickly. In some respect people work under enormous stress in the education sector because it is to be expected they do their work without errors. A strong emotional involvement is typical of their relationships with students, parents and clients. Burnout is the result of permanent and repeated negative emotions, which is connected with long lasting and intensive relationships with other people. The base of burnout is the realization, they can not help children any more, they can not give them anything and they had depleted their inner resources. Burnout is not an self-insulated syndrome: many people suffer from it. It has harmful psychic effects and contributes to create bad mood. In the “burned out” individual is growing up a low self-respect and a negative attitude towards his or her job. In some cases, empathy and deep feelings are becoming antipathy and unpitying feelings towards clients and students.
Supervision in practice like one possible way the prevention and treatment of job burnout
The aim of supervision should be to facilitate of learning by sharing everyday experiences. Learning about the profession and the process of personal development happen during all stages of life. A therapist treats work experiences with a supervisee’s help that causes great stress and in this way it is capable of maintain and recreate human and profession integrity day by day, so supervision blocks burnout.
There were that kind of teachers in supervision group who worked in different workplaces and they were at different stages of burnout. Four of them were in the early stages and three of them were in the intermediate stages of burnout. None of them were in a crisis situation. They all had been faced with a serious behavioral problem they could not solve and found frustrating. One of the teachers told us a concrete issue after thinking of it in every detail. The group participated in exploring and clarifying the issue. The members of the group were allowed to put questions in order that we could understand the background on the conflict. They might make suggestions for how to sort out the issue. The members of the group were able to participate in case processing as long as they imagined themselves in teacher’s position. It was vitally important that issue has been explained in the fullest detail and teacher’s feelings have been described faithfully. During the processing teacher’s position was analyzed and organizational development was also introduced.
One of the teachers always worked as an educator at a dormitory. She tried to teach only once for one year. She taught math and geography at that secondary school of which dormitory she works at presently. Although she spent less time at school than at dormitory, she had to prepare her lessons a lot and she had discipline problems as well. After one academic year she turned back to the dormitory where she had worked. She loved her job and liked dealing with children who often asked for her help at math. She did not agree on everything with the school of management. According to her, it would be worth changing many things, but the principal did not interested in anything and later he became ill and missed a lot of school because of sickness. He was obliged to retire because of his long absence. Local government invited applicants for the principal job. There were four applicants. One of them was the teacher’s colleague with who she got on well and who has already directed issues at school. Most of the staff voted for her and shared her opinion in many cases but some of the technical co-workers did not agree with her because she gave them the cold shoulder. Of course, the supervisee would have liked that if her colleague had won the application but their no small surprise such a man got the job who he has never worked at dormitory. He had previously taught technical subject at a secondary school. He got most of the votes because he had a few acquaintances among the local government representatives. Maybe they contributed to his success. He was introduced in a staff meeting at the beginning of the academic year by one of the representatives. He was well-known as a teacher by his colleagues because some of the students attended the same school where he taught. They did not have a high opinion of him.
The entrusted principal was named as the deputy principal by the new principal “because of her earlier success”. School staff were disappointed with the situation, including the supervisee. She tried to console her colleague who got grecians. These students were unmanageable. Most of them would have liked to recompense “unfair marks” that got some time from present principal. During these months there had been a lot of debate among the deputy principal and the principal that influenced the teacher. Owning to the black mood the deputy principal resigned ,became ill and got sick pay. So the teacher was named as a deputy principal, but she did not want to fill the vacancy because she could hardly endure conflicts so far. By the way she also was in the deputy principal’s bad book because nobody stood up for her while she was struggling with the principal. She know that if she took the job, she would have been a bone of contention. In spite of these facts, she took the job because she needed more money. She brought up her child by herself and did not get alimony either. While she was working as an deputy principal, the previous deputy principal came back to school and restarted to work as an educator, of course. As time went by…the supervisee felt worse and she did not keep her listlessness and frustration bottled up. She was on sick-leave because she was suffering from headaches, stomach aches and she couldn’t sleep in the evenings. She was considering changing her job. She would have liked to handle the situation, but at that time she couldn’t cope with it. The educator, who was in supervision group, started her new job in difficult circumstances. Obviously, these warnings were the symptoms of burnout. Her index number was: 3,8 in a question form which made by Pines. After breaking the ice, she talked quite freely about herself. All group members imagined if they were in her position , what would they do. They tried to understand her feelings and experiences. During the supervision relationship between male and female was examined carefully, which brought out she was dominant in her married life.(her marriage broke down because of it) As a supervisor, maybe I managed to push the thoughts out of her mind and direct towards wishful thinking. I always offered recommendations without showing the possible solution. An essential goal of supervision is to help supervisee in such a way that she will be able to learn from own experiences and could explore every possible way of dealing with the problem. As negative responses to supervisee’s work stimulate shame, humiliation, and anxiety which, in turn, diminish the atmosphere of safety in the group. Therefore the supervisor’s attitude of compassion and empathy and a setting of positive tone in the group is essential. This helped her to surface and reduced her feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and frustration. It was surprising for me how the relationship developed between us, among the supervisee and her colleagues and the students. An unconditional relationship built up among the colleagues and students. As a matter of fact she only got a possibility that she can get closer to herself end her problem. During the supervision (I hope )I managed to “ set her off ” the right way and she will be able to get her own way in the future.
Some aspects of the psycho-dynamics of the problem were exposed, but I intended to reach that the analysis of the supervisee’s personality helps her work. The analysis of organizational hierarchy explored her personality’s problem: the lack of self-esteem. She could not establish new relationships and she couldn’t adapt herself to surroundings. Moreover, she did not have a good relationship with her teenager. Having revived her parents’ and teachers’ attitude in her reminiscences, she did treat children in the same way. And now she is the authoritarian teacher. She is unsure of herself.
Although most supervision is on an individual basis, most of the supervisors prefer a group setting because it provides support, encouragement, and an opportunity to see how others struggle with clients. Providing concrete suggestions typically helps to resolve the former problems. Supervision helps supervisees make interventions which are congruent with their own personalities. This approach helps to integrate the supervisees’ educational, life and supervisory experiences. In the presence of supervisees of different orientations, each supervisee widens his or her range of interventions and is able
to become more accepting of differences in their own and others’ feelings and approaches. As supervisees become more congruent and flexible in their interventions, they become more at ease with deeper layers of emotional conflict and expression and therefore more effective in dealing with individual clients, couples and participants therapy as well as their colleagues.
Needless to say job burnout which is manifested physically, mentally or emotionally not only the individual’s, but also the employer’s and the management’s problem. We all need to deal with stress management and burnout prevention. To prevent or treat burnout, we must become familiar with its symptoms.
Copyright © 2005 International Association of Individual Psychology