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Are you in Burnout? 10 Important Questions and Answers

Sometimes people ask me in my private practice whether they can successfully end one addiction but keep another one going. The short answer is no. An example I wrote about in an earlier blog post is whether someone can successfully stop using cocaine but continue to drink alcohol. The question I will address today is […] Continue Reading

Sometimes people come to see me in my private practice after they have just been laid off. They are usually rocked. Their self-esteem has taken a blow. They’re seen others be laid off from their jobs but they weren’t prepared for it be their turn. Sometimes they imagined it could never happen to them because […] Continue Reading

A woman I knew once told me that she couldn’t imagine being single. Her name was Mary Ellen. She was married to a great guy named Stephen who loved her and treated her well. They both had successful careers and had just bought a house together.   (All identifying information has been changed to protect […] Continue Reading

Dr. Lissa Rankin is a physician that specializes in health and wellness. In this TedTalk, titled “ The shocking truth about your health” Dr. Rankin shares how her own personal journey led her to leave the field of medicine, discouraged by the system yet determined to find out what really makes a healthy body. Dr Rankin […] Continue Reading

People who have experienced developmental trauma (meaning abuse and neglect during childhood) frequently do not feel good enough. They believe they are not as good as everyone else. They believe they are damaged. Flawed. The feeling they are not good enough can push these individuals to work extremely hard, in an attempt to finally prove […] Continue Reading

A number of the adult clients that I work with in my private practice experienced developmental trauma (meaning neglect and abuse) as children. Adults who experienced developmental trauma have different areas of the brain light up during brain scans than adults who were safe from neglect and abuse as children. These differences in brain scans are […] Continue Reading

People who have experienced developmental trauma (meaning abuse and neglect as children) will usually say that they are quick to anger when I ask. They will say “Yes,” when I ask them whether they would describe their anger as rage. This response may come as a surprise to you if you had parents who were […] Continue Reading

Dr. Daniel Amen is a clinical psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist, as well as a best selling author. In this interesting TedTalk, Dr. Amen describes the importance of brain scans in diagnosing and treating patients that suffer from brain injuries as well as personality disorders. Using SPECT Brain Scan technology, imaging can reveal the level […] Continue Reading

People who experienced developmental trauma, meaning abuse and neglect as children, frequently become adults that need a high degree of control over their environments. These adults can accurately be described as controlling and inflexible. Rigid is another word that can fit.  Their need for control makes complete sense when viewed from a developmental trauma perspective. Abused […] Continue Reading

A psychologist recently told me one of his clients was ready to finish therapy. He said she had recovered from the abuse she had endured as a child. He said she was 65-years-old. The psychologist said his client was grieving because she was now fully aware of how much she had missed out on in […] Continue Reading

I have worked with many people in burnout and have observed that they tend to push themselves really hard, sometimes for years, and end up exhausted. Not surprisingly, the quality of their work can suffer over the longer-term. I spend a lot of time with clients talking about how they can change their approach to […] Continue Reading

Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Alex Russell, discusses some of the possible reasons that an increasing number of children are experiencing anxiety in this valuable TedxTalk. Dr. Russell's research shows how parents can help children their children become more resilient emotionally balanced individuals […] Continue Reading

I can understand why some people are afraid to fly. I personally don’t like turbulence when I’m in an airplane. It’s easy to let my imagination run wild and think that the plane will somehow fall out of the sky. But here’s the thing. Planes don’t crash. Not statistically. This particular topic came to mind as […] Continue Reading

One of the first things I get asked when working with clients that are in burnout is how long it will take them to recover. Based on experience, my response is that it typically takes about seven weeks before a person will start feeling that they have energy again. “Really? Seven weeks?” is the typical response. […] Continue Reading

A significant number of the clients I counsel experience muscle tension and neck pain, and can benefit from seeing a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist that I work closely with recently shared that all the clients I refer to him from my practice have the same problem with muscle tension when they first arrive at his office. […] Continue Reading

In this short video, Doreen Woolley discusses giftedness and how it affects all members of the family. Many adults only recognize their own giftedness when raising a gifted child, having never understood their own giftedness growing up. Woolley presents a series of informative slides that describe how family dynamics can be improved when the characteristics of […] Continue Reading

I will sometimes meet a new client that is struggling to come to terms with the actions of a sociopath. The sociopath may be a member of their family -- a husband or a father, for example. While the sociopaths in the following stories happen to be male, please be aware they can also be female. The prevalence […] Continue Reading

Gifted adults are often surprised to learn that it is normal for them to be highly sensitive to sounds, texture, the visual environment, and medications, and that they share these characteristics with other gifted adults. They frequently say they never suspected that these sensitivities are typical for gifted adults. When I ask my gifted clients if […] Continue Reading

This 15-minute documentary, filmed at a school for gifted children, discusses what giftedness is and what it isn't. Gifted educator, Dr. James Delisle, and other staff members speak directly about the mixed blessing of being gifted. The video is helpful for those struggling with how to describe giftedness as it applies to either themselves or […] Continue Reading

Many people are in burnout because their company’s expectations concerning what one person can accomplish are unrealistic.  When a client tells me their company demands too much of them, I ask them whether they have discussed the problem with their boss. If they haven’t, I suggest we spend some time exploring how to ask for […] Continue Reading

There are several reasons why people find themselves in burnout. Frequently, it is those people that are strongly motivated, dedicated and heavily committed to their work that find themselves most vulnerable to burnout.  Many of my clients have said that their jobs were way too big when we first sat down to talk. From what […] Continue Reading

Health Psychologist, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, gives a talk titled How To Make Stress Your Friend in this popular and thought provoking TedTalk. McGonigal asserts that how you view stress influences how stress impacts you. She states that the harmful effects of stress are not inevitable. Take a look […] Continue Reading

Falling oil prices create stress. You only have to listen to the news or read the newspaper to sense the fear as oil prices fall.  Stock prices fall, which has many concerned about their investments. Jobs are lost. Falling oil prices mean engineering consulting firms lay-off drafters and support staff as they move to cut costs. […] Continue Reading

Gifted adults have trouble finding friends and romantic partners who have similar depth, complexity, sensitivity, and interests because these individuals are hard to find.  Being gifted puts you in the top 2.5% of the population based on intelligence test scores. This means that only 1 in 40 people are gifted, so you may have to […] Continue Reading

It is helpful to anticipate the challenges you may encounter when you decide to change jobs or change professions.  (Details in the following stories have been changed to protect privacy.) When a good friend was 18-years-old and heading off to university, his high school teachers suggested that he become an engineer. Ian didn’t have a realistic perspective of the profession at […] Continue Reading

I have worked with many people in burnout, and in my experience counselling them, pretty much everyone has recovered that has worked hard to learn what they needed to learn. I once worked with a client, however, that wasn’t recovering as quickly as I was expecting him to, which left me confused. He appeared to be […] Continue Reading

I have had several clients arrive at my office for our first session shortly after they have been terminated from their jobs. Still others have arrived stating they are about to be fired. Of these individuals, several have indicated they were surprised that their jobs were threatened because they were “in the right” and thus expected […] Continue Reading

I have had several clients tell me that they do not enjoy Christmas. Sure, they like having the holiday time off from work or school and the fact that everything comes to a halt for several days. But they don’t enjoy Christmas, or the days leading up to Christmas. Why is that?  For many, they […] Continue Reading

It is not uncommon to hear from one of my clients that their relationship with their spouse or child or parent is in trouble. They may say they do not feel as close as they once did. They may say they no longer talk very much, and that they don’t know how to get the closeness […] Continue Reading

Gifted adults often set high standards that they expect themselves and those around them to reach. These standards are referred to as “perfectionism” by psychologists, and can cause problems in relationships both at home and at work, as well as for the gifted adults themselves. I have seen these high standards at play for some of my clients. […] Continue Reading

Talking to your aging parent about the physical and mental losses they are experiencing as they age can be difficult, especially when major decisions and life changes need to be made. You might feel you need to start a conversation with your aging parents about when it is time for them to sell the house […] Continue Reading

Talking to your aging parents about the physical and mental losses they are experiencing is not easy. This is often because your parents are used to being "the parent" in the relationship, and you are used to being the child. As parents live into their advanced years, however, they are more likely to become dependent […] Continue Reading

On occasion, a client will arrive at my office feeling completely overwhelmed. Together, we work to address this feeling as our first task so that the person can move to a place of calm.  I am currently feeling overwhelmed at work myself. I have bitten off more special projects than I can chew at the […] Continue Reading

Research professor Brene´ Brown has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame. This 2010 TED talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com. Brown’s research focuses on how we need to embrace vulnerability for connection with others to take place […] Continue Reading

I have had clients tell me that they have a problem with cocaine, but that they don’t have a problem with alcohol. They also tell me they would never use cocaine when they are sober, but that it is the alcohol that alters their judgement and so they only use cocaine when they drink. It is […] Continue Reading

Some of my clients identify themselves as “trailing spouses.” They use this term to indicate that they have followed their husbands, either within Canada or around the world, moving whenever their husbands’ jobs demanded that they move. Frequently, these women would stay behind in the city they were leaving, after their husbands accepted the promotions, […] Continue Reading

A number of my clients arrive at my office in burnout. Sometimes I suggest that they take short-term medical leave because they are exhausted. Sometimes that leave lasts more than 12 weeks and transitions to long-term medical leave. Today, I am writing about short-term medical leave only. Most people know whether they have medical leave […] Continue Reading

A number of clients I have worked with have taken short-term medical leave from their jobs because of burnout. Sometimes the short-term medical leave has extended to long-term medical leave, which means that the person has been absent from work for more than 12 weeks. Read more about when to take medical leave for burnout. […] Continue Reading

A significant number of people I have worked with have experienced developmental trauma (meaning neglect and abuse as children). In many cases they were born to a family where their parents did not adequately care for them. They experienced neglect and emotional abuse, and possibly physical abuse and sexual abuse. People with trauma histories may have had […] Continue Reading

I often meet with people in my private practice that are experiencing burnout, but that cannot give themselves permission to take a vacation from their job to rest. Read more: What is burnout? and Burnout is a continuum. Sometimes they perceive they are unable to leave their desks to take vacation because the work demands […] Continue Reading

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Are you in Burnout? 10 Important Questions and Answers