Work Life Stress, Trauma, and Burnout

Trauma of any kind is defined as a persistent interference with a person’s basic pattern of life which cannot be managed by them in accordance with this pattern.

Trauma expert, Judith Herman has this to say, “Trauma overwhelms the ordinary systems of care that give people a sense of control, connection and meaning.”

My client base is largely comprised of individuals working in big tech, Amazon in particular, and my knowledge of that field encompasses both breadth and depth. That is not to say I don’t work with successful individuals from other fields as well, I do. As a result, work life stress and trauma is a major focus of my practice. It can manifest itself in many ways including anxiety, insomnia, addiction, depression, ruptured relationships, procrastination, burnout and uncontrollable anger to name a few.

We typically think of trauma as being the result of a sudden, violent event or loss or as stemming from long-term, intentional abuse. Comparatively little has been written about how individuals are traumatized by events in the American workplace, in spite of the fact the majority of our time is spent on the job and with co-workers. Some of the major themes I address in my work around this issue are:

• Toxic team dynamics
• Self limiting thoughts and behaviors
• Imposter Syndrome
• Procrastination
• Work-Life balance
• Burnout (When it comes to burnout, I typically help you examine the three main factors that go into workplace satisfaction- energy, involvement and effectiveness. We then delve into 6 facets of work that feed into these factors to enhance or disrupt them. These are typically workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values.)
• Career, leadership, and executive coaching through a psychotherapeutic lens with a focus on self-limiting beliefs and interpersonal relationships within the professional realm.

One final word on work: workplace trauma cannot be understood until we understand the personal meaning we place on work. One major force that shapes the way we view work is identity. Sociologist, Everett C. Hughes, famous for his writings on work and occupation, rightly had this to say about the value the individual places on work. “…a man’s work is one of the most important parts of his social identity, of his self, indeed of his fate, in the one life he has to live…”

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