Caregiver Affect Management

Caregivers and therapists often encounter different situations surrounding trauma, which may influence their affect and how they interact with clients and colleagues. It is essential to consider taking care of themselves when working amidst trauma to ensure they do not suffer burnout.

Caregiver Affect Management

Caregivers and therapists should recognize signs of being stressed and how the stress may influence their affect and decision-making. The primary focus of this discussion is managing personal affect while working amidst trauma and doing trauma work. The issue of self-care and burnout, signs of stress, and the effect of stress on affect and decision-making will also be explored.

It is imperative to start by understanding stress and burnout in caregivers. Stress is defined as how an individual reacts when feeling threatened, under pressure, overwhelmed, and unable to control or manage a particular situation (Yates, 2020). Stress involves any change that leads to physical, psychological, or emotional strain.

Burnout is defined as the state of physical and emotional exhaustion, generally accompanied by reduced motivation, accomplishment, and a loss of personal identity (Yates, 2020). Stress and burnout may considerably affect decision-making and affect. Research shows that trauma counselors and therapists are more likely to suffer secondary traumatic stress and burnout than other professionals (Padmanabhanunni, 2020).

I always strive to ensure I take care of myself and avoid the stress that would contribute to burnout. Working amidst trauma and with people affected by trauma can significantly cause stress. Sometimes the situation is overwhelming, and the interventions taken do not seem to produce the desired results, which can demotivate and discourage me as a therapist.

For instance, some people drop out of cognitive behavioral therapy sessions when they begin to see some results but come back with symptoms reemergence, which not only requires restarting therapy intervention but also recommending medical treatment. Such a situation can majorly cause stress while working amidst trauma. However, I try as much as possible to remind myself that I am doing the best of my training, skills, and knowledge and that sometimes things may not go as desired.

I also affirm that I can handle situations around trauma and remind myself of past successful moments. Thus, I encourage myself in a way that helps me move forward regardless of the situations surrounding trauma work. McCormack et al. (2018) note that the work setting and the situations around work for psychologists and mental health professionals is a major cause of stress and burnout. Being sensitive to the work setting and being alert helps me avoid stress when working in situations surrounding trauma.

A therapist needs to recognize the signs of stress in their body. Different people express stress differently. Most of the time, I recognize the signs of stress in my body. When I am stressed, I am usually overwhelmed, try to eat more than enough, and experience fatigue, intermittent headaches, and muscle aches. These are some of the signs that force me to take action immediately.

The reason for taking action as soon as possible is due to the effect of stress on my affect and making decisions. Stress considerably influences my affect and decision-making. Affect is the outward expression of feelings and emotions. It is also the body’s indication of emotions.

When I am stressed, I often tend to frown, change the tone of my voice, and sometimes even shed tears when the stress is too overwhelming; despite being expected to be friendly with clients and maintain a positive affect, my affect when stressed may compromise this aspect of a therapist. Also, it considerably affects my interaction with my colleagues, which may also negatively affect my productivity. Additionally, I tend to make rash and irrational decisions while stressed.

Given that I have learned how my body reacts to stress and how stress influences my decision-making and affect, I will proactively manage a positive affect, especially when working amidst trauma and doing trauma work in trauma prevention, intervention, and postvention. The first strategy is avoiding stress and managing stress to avoid its influence on affect.

As mentioned earlier, mental health professionals and psychologists are more likely to suffer secondary traumatic stress, mainly due to the stress surrounding their work. Preventing and managing stress will help me maintain a positive affect through cultivating a positive attitude towards working with trauma, positive affirmation, and encouraging myself to continue doing my best regardless of the situations surrounding work.

Furthermore, positivity and being open to new challenges are other essential strategies for managing a positive affect. Maintaining an optimistic outlook on my work will enable me to overlook the work-related factors that may negatively influence my affect. Additionally, embracing new challenges while working amidst trauma will prepare me to adapt to different trauma work situations and teach me new ways of dealing with them.

In conclusion, maintaining a positive affect is crucial for caregivers and therapists. Positive affect leads to better interaction between the caregiver and other colleagues. Some of the factors that influence affect include stress and burnout. Recognizing how one’s body reacts to stress and how stress influences affect and decision-making is vital when working amidst trauma. It helps take action and avoid burnout which affects not only productivity but also the caregivers’ mental and physical health.

References

  • McCormack, H. M., MacIntyre, T. E., O’Shea, D., Herring, M. P., & Campbell, M. J. (2018). The prevalence and cause (s) of burnout among applied psychologists: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology9, 1897. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01897
  • Padmanabhanunni, A. (2020). Caring does not always cost The role of fortitude in the association between personal trauma exposure and professional quality of life among lay trauma counselors. Traumatology, 26(4), 420–426. https://doi.org/10.1037/trm0000262
  • Yates, S. W. (2020). Physician stress and burnout. The American Journal Of Medicine133(2), 160-164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2019.08.034

Caregiver Affect Management Instructions

Your final discussion question asks you to describe how you manage your own affect in the midst of and following traumatic situations. This is a question we ask in our intensives in order to see if you, as the student, have the requisite knowledge to take care of yourself (self-care) and avoid burnout. Do you recognize the signs of being stressed in your body? How does your stress play out through your decisioning and your affect? How will you proactively manage for positive affect in the midst of doing trauma work (prevention, intervention, postvention). Please take the time to elaborate on the topic you choose.