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Preventing RBT Burnout

January 29, 2021

by Alyson ShafferM.Ed. BCBA Owner

Burnout is a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. The three key dimensions of this response are an overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

Symptoms and behaviors related to burnout include absenteeism, frequent illness, withdrawal from social interaction, negative language when talking about work avoidance of work tasks, and possibly other physical symptoms.

The risk factors of burnout include high/unrealistic work demands, younger employees, single employees, isolation/lack of social support, challenging client behaviors, and employees that define work as a primary source of feelings of accomplishment.

The effects of burnout are absenteeism, high levels of staff turnover, service disruption for our learners, additional stress for those that do stay when others leave, and poor performance by those that choose to stay instead of leaving or seeking out help when beginning to feel burnt out.

So, what can we do at Solving Autism to address this ongoing issue in the field?  We can Assess, Intervene and Monitor the RBT’s performance and satisfaction.

We can use data to determine the number of missed sessions and call outs of our RBT’s.  There are also a variety of workplace inventories to assess how staff are feeling about their jobs. Below is an example of one inventory called The Maslach Abbreviated Burnout Inventory.

The Maslach Abbreviated Burnout Inventory

We can develop an RBT Support Committee to help facilitate peer mentorships and connections. This has been difficult to do this past year due to Covid, however, moving forward I would like to develop an RBT support Committee.  If you are interested in being a part of this committee, please contact me directly at solvingautism@gmail.com

Self-Care is another intervention that is important to discuss.  We look forward to hosting activities that are done to intentionally show the importance of taking care of our own mental, physical and emotional health.  Team building exercises are important and learning that self-care isn’t selfish.

ABA is a data driven entity.   We can use our skills to assess for burnout and intervene to help decrease burnout.  Then we have to monitor our RBT’s with ongoing data analysis, re-administering measures periodically and simply asking you how you are doing!

At Solving Autism, we want to do everything that we can to prevent burnout.  Please always reach out to your BCBA or to the owner, Alyson Shaffer if you need more support than you are receiving.  And remember, if you are interested in getting involved in the RBT Support Committee, please e-mail Alyson Shaffer directly at solvingautism.com

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