In up being a skill that many people struggle

In the human services field, burning out is a
common problem that presents itself quite frequently. This is evident by the
challenges presented by surrounding ourselves in high intensity work
environments with increasing challenging behaviors (Gutierrez, 2016). When
people begin to burn out they start to have a lack of drive and are no longer
working to their highest potential. This can become problematic because it can
lead to non-therapeutic relationships with the people we support. According to
Gutierrez, it is our ethical responsibility as care workers to know the limits
of our own emotions and the skill of self-monitoring ourselves to avoid
non-therapeutic or abusive situations (2016). The self-monitoring of emotions
ends up being a skill that many people struggle with unknowingly. By not having
a hold on a person’s emotions, it can cause burn out when working with a
population that deals with crisis situations. By implementing more in-depth
staff training on emotional intelligence, we may be able to avoid burn out with
staff. This could also lead to more therapeutic and meaningful relationships
with the people that we support.

According to Howard Gardner, emotional
intelligence is defined as a person’s ability to understand motivations behind
actions based on emotions of oneself and others (Scott, 2017). This can be
measured in five categories; social awareness, self-regulation, motivation,
empathy and social skills (Scott, 2017). Social awareness focuses on how a
person understands and identifies their own feelings and emotions. A person
with high social awareness also has accompanied self-confidence. This is due to
a high level of recognition of one’s own abilities to understand themselves and
their self-worth. A person who is able to self-regulate has a handle on their
own self-control. They are able to adapt to situations accordingly and have an
innovative mindset when presented with different situations. Some traits of a
person who has high self-regulation include trustworthiness and
conscientiousness. Motivation can be defined as a person’s drive and
commitment. A person with high motivation is typically more optimistic and
tends to take the initiative in different situations. Empathy includes a
person’s ability to support and understand others. A person who is empathetic
typically encourages diversity and has a high level of political awareness. Having
a base knowledge of these areas can increase your emotional intelligence which
could lead to handling a crisis situation in an appropriate manner (Scott, 2017).

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High emotional intelligence also encompasses
social skills. Some traits included with this are advanced communication and
leadership skills. A person with developed social skills is also able to handle
conflict management and team building with a more equal viewpoint (Scott, 2017).
In this profession, we tend to see that the leaders on the floor including the
supervisors and assistants struggle the least with social skills as well as
burn out. This could potentially be due to the experience that they have gained
from the length of time that they have been in the field or due to their
increased training on various topics that other staff do not have access to.

In a field that deals with so much burn out,
it is important that we find a solution that takes into account the most
important aspects of this job. With such high crisis situations, it is evident
that professionals working with this population need a hold on their own
emotions before they are able to accurately help others work through their
emotions. According to Amaddeo, professionals that are constantly working with
individuals who have prolonged crisis situations can lead to side effects of
burn out including “depression, anxiety, intrusive imagery, numbing and
avoidance phenomena, cognitive shifts, as well as social and relational
problems” (2017).

Most of these side effects are the result of
a psychological change that occurs when a person is in a stressful environment.
These negative side effects can cause problems with building and fostering
relationships with the people we support. It is our job to avoid negative
interactions with the people we support and help them live more meaningful
lives. We tend to do this by setting an example for how they can appropriately
handle their own emotional outbreaks. By encouraging our staff to be more aware
of their own emotional regulation, these skills will be able to be observed and
mimicked by the people we support.

There are many different psychological
factors that play into the reasons that people experience burn out in varying
time frames including length of experience, attendance at training, work
environment and coping styles (Amaddeo, 2017). By increasing staff’s awareness
of their emotional reaction to crisis situation and training appropriate coping
skills, burn out may be able to be avoided and situations will be handled in a
different way. This would prevent the increase in burn out that people
experience in this field. Ideally, our goal would be to decrease any attributes
to burn out, but it is also important to focus on the more common problem
areas. This would include our staff’s reaction to immediate crisis
intervention.

Emotional intelligence is a difficult concept
for many people to learn. When teaching a topic so complex as emotional
intelligence, it is important to incorporate active learning. According to
Connolly, emotional intelligence is a topic that is typically learned through
life experiences; active learning would be the ideal learning style because it
would help improve people’s ability to retain information (2017). Humans have a
tendency to respond with their flight or fight response. By increasing skills
such as self-awareness, we are able to remove ourselves from a situation and
reflect on our reaction rather than react immediately (Grafton, 2012).

One way of training these skills would be through role playing
potential situations that tend to arise in our field. By role playing these situations, we are
able to reenact any instances that a person may have felt like they did not
handle in the best way, or to show newer staff typical situations that occur
daily. Not only would this allow people to evaluate and reflect on how
they handled a specific situation, but it would also allow staff to put
themselves in someone else’s shoes to help them become more genuine when
empathizing or counseling.

By incorporating this into training regiments
or staff meetings, it will give staff the appropriate tools to fine tune their
response when quickly entering a crisis situation. This would not only benefit
the staff members general well-being, but it will also help prevent
non-therapeutic situations with the people we support.

According to Ameddio:

In order to provide adequate mental health
services, managers need to provide their employees with adequate ergonomic
conditions, paying special attention to time pressures. Building trustful
relationships with management and within teams is also crucial. Training and
meeting are other important targets for potential improvement, and although how
meetings and the need for training are perceived might depend on the motivation
of members of staff themselves. (2017)

Without a push from management, it is near
impossible to create the motivational push needed for staff members to see the
importance of increasing their emotional intelligence. There are so many
factors that play into burn out that can be avoided including workload demand
as well as knowing when someone needs to step off of the floor. We are
constantly told that if you are in a situation that is too much to handle, you
can step away from it. Although this is good practice for maintaining a
therapeutic response to crisis, many people struggle with leaving the situation
due to a feeling of failure to accurately and appropriately handle it.

By creating an annual training course on
establishing and maintaining high levels of emotional intelligence, we will be
able to move away from this idea that we are failing because we cannot handle a
situation. It will teach staff that it is more important in that situation to
walk away rather than attempt to handle a crisis situation inappropriately. It
will also give staff the appropriate tools to reflect on their response before
they jump into action.

By incorporating extra training for
increasing emotional intelligence, there would be many other benefits along
with reducing burn out with staff. A recurring topic that continues to be a
problem area for this job setting is the high stress environment. This is one
of the main causes for burn out, but high stress can also be due to other work
pressures including meeting deadlines, conflict with others, and changes in the
workplace (Chadha, 2017). According to Chadha, higher levels of emotional
intelligence were related to lower levels of perceived stress, social anxiety,
and better coping abilities (2017).

Decreasing these stresses that people face in
the work place, will also give people the skills to incorporate their coping
abilities into their daily lives. These skills will not only create better
relationships between direct support professionals and the people they support,
but it will also create a more positive work environment. This change will
assist in fostering an increase in all aspects of job performances.

The training for higher emotional
intelligence among staff members will encompass each aspect including social
awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. In a study
done by Bagheri, there was an increase in emotional intelligence by training
with multiple sessions. The biggest improvement began with the base knowledge
about emotions.

According to Bagheri:

Training emotion regulation started with
giving knowledge about emotions, functions of emotions and the role of emotions
in interpersonal relationship and cognitive activities. It seems that lack of
emotion regulation knowledge is a very important contributor to inability to
regulate emotions. (2016)

We tend to assume that everyone understands
the basic knowledge behind counseling a person we support through a crisis. It
is often forgotten that most people have outside support systems when they are
unable to control or understand their own emotions. By incorporating a training
with basic knowledge and understanding of emotions, we allow people the tools
to break down every stressful response they may want to react with.

Increasing emotional intelligence has many
benefits to a person’s well-being and understanding of emotional stressors. By
creating trainings that focus heavily on the basis of emotional regulation and
awareness, we would be giving our staff the tools necessary to form therapeutic
relationships with the people we support. The hope behind these trainings would
be that staff would utilize their skills in the work place as well as their
daily lives in order to decrease the amount of stress they encompass. In doing
so, the benefit would be less burn out for all of the staff working with people
who have very challenging behaviors. 

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