April is Counseling Awareness Month, a time to celebrate the demanding and important work of counselors. This year’s theme is “Burn bright, not out,” which is particularly relevant more than a year into COVID-19. While many things have had to stop out of necessity during the pandemic, counselors have been in high demand.
Counselors May Experience Compassion Fatigue or Burnout
Compassion fatigue is when someone in a caregiving position experiences distress or vicarious trauma from being a consistent witness to others’ pain. As addiction continues to rise during COVID-19 and peoples’ mental health suffers, there is more potential for counselors to experience compassion fatigue or burnout.
Even in “normal” times, up to 61% of mental health practitioners experience burnout. It’s commonly understood that therapists need therapists; this is particularly true now as counselors and other mental health practitioners process their own stress or trauma along with that of their clients.
What Do Counselors Do and How Many Are There?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 there were 319,400 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2019 and 2029, the number of counselors will grow by 25%, higher than the average for all occupations.
As more people seek to become counselors, it’s valuable to honor the importance of the profession. Counselors provide guidance to help improve people’s lives. They often take a holistic approach, focusing on mental, physical, and emotional health. They may focus on a particular area—such as substance use—or they may consult with people on a range of issues, as with a school counselor. They might provide individual counseling, or work with families, couples, or groups.
Counselors work in agencies, schools, private practice, addiction treatment centers, and much more. There are more than 665,500 counselors across the different fields. All of these people are providing support to people in the community, which in turn helps the community as a whole grow stronger.
Self and Community Care for Counselors
If you google “how to care for counselors with burnout during COVID-19,” you’ll see a lot about how counselors can take care of themselves to avoid burning out. This plays into the idea that counselors are the ultimate caregivers and, if struggling, are even responsible for bringing themselves out of it.
While taking care of yourself is important—and people in caregiving positions sometimes need to be reminded to prioritize their needs along with others’—it’s also important that counselors receive care. This month, try giving extra care to someone in your life who is in a counseling profession. They deserve it.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you learn to take care of yourself in recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.