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Where Am I?


During a recent group session, one participant had learned about the stages of burnout recovery and had some questions. How can I know how far I have got? And do I really have to pass through each one of them?


The need to feel we are making progress and passing along a clearly-defined path is a strong urge in many and it is frustrating to be told that each individual recovers in the way that is unique for them. So, are there clearly defined stages of burnout and burnout recovery and can we assess our position on them?


Firstly, twelve stages of burnout were suggested by the godfather of burnout, the psychoanalyst Herbert Freudenberger and then refined by others - Cristina Maslach suggested there are six. This takes a person from a person in balance, to the onset of stress, through chronic stress, and the three tell-tale symptoms: physical and emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation or cynicism and reduced personal accomplishment.


When you look into phases of burnout recovery, Diane Bernier suggested six stages too - Crisis and recognition of burnout; distancing from work; restoration of health, revision of values, exploring work options and making a change.


Although these are undoubtedly phases that people recovering from burnout go through, recovery is not a straight line, some phases may take a long time to go through, or even recur and evaluating where you are in these phases is not as straightforward as you might hope.


We are all different and as I am a strong believer in the power of coaching to help someone recover from burnout, you may be unsurprised to hear mt formula for assessing where you stand in your burnout recovery.


Ultimately, coaching is about allowing the person being coached to find the answers within themselves and I strongly believe the best approach is to ask yourselves the right questions, note the answers and acknowledge your progress even when it might seem to those around you that you are standing still. 


One of my favourite podcasters, Cait Donovan recently spoke about this and prepared a list of ten questions to help you judge your own progress.


So what do you think? How about grabbing a pen and getting started on those questions?

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