Burnout has been described as the “gradually intensifying pattern of physi- cal, psychological and behavioral responses to a continual flow of stressors”. Burnout is experienced as emotional exhaustion and often manifests in form of apathy, negative job attitude, and perhaps most concerning from an ethical perspective of competence, a loss of con- cern and feeling for the client.
For some practitioners experiencing burnout, the impact is evident in their tendency to withdraw from social contact, become defensive and aggressive in relationships, and when it comes to clients, exhibit a dehu- manizing attitude. That dehumanization often reveals itself in the provider’s identification of clients by a diagnostic label such as “my borderline” or in personal characteristics, for example, the “divorcee,” and serves to distance and detach the counselor from the person of the client and thus his or her suffering. Consider the case of Dr. L., one practitioner for whom burnout clearly impacted her ability to provide effective, ethical service