How to Prevent BCBA/RBT Burnout Yourself

woman rubbing bridge of nose stressed at work with personal issues

Whether you are new to the workplace or have been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) for years, you’ve likely heard of the phrase “burned out”. Those working in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy are known to experience this phenomenon, along with those in many other industries, so it’s important to understand and combat it effectively. This will lead to a happier outlook on life and more positive feelings regarding your occupation, along with greater health and more motivation to succeed.

What Is Burnout?

Before we can combat burnout, it’s important to understand exactly what it is. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers it an occupational phenomenon versus a medical condition, and defines it as follows:

“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • reduced professional efficacy

Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

BCBA Burnout Rate

If you are experiencing ABA burnout on a regular basis, you’re not alone. 72% of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and behavior technicians reported having medium to high levels of burnout.

How to Know If You Are Burned Out

Now that you understand what exactly it is, it’s time to look at the common signs so you can determine if you’re currently burned out or if it’s something you should just watch out for in the future as a professional working in an ABA practice.

Some common signs of burnout include:

  • Increased errors and omissions during work activities
  • Absences from work without notice
  • Frequent complaints about feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities with no end in sight for increasing demands at work
  • Unwillingness to engage socially outside of work environment
  • Lack of enthusiasm for new initiatives or projects
  • Increased cynicism, criticism, and apathy toward company policies or procedures
  • Decreased motivation to engage in work activities and/or loss of interest in tasks

Tips To Prevent Burnout

If you are a BCBA or an ABA Therapist, you know that burnout is one of the biggest problems in the field. Here are some tips on how to prevent that burnout from ever happening in the first place.

Create Boundaries 

Between your private and professional life, it’s important to know boundaries and work on creating them. A lot of BCBAs find themselves working longer hours than they should because their colleagues, friends or family expect it from them. However, this can:

  • lead to burnout very quickly
  • reduce the quality of work you produce
  • reduce your level of enjoyment in your job

When people ask for help with something, learn how to say “no” and make sure that you are not overextending yourself by saying “yes” when a simple “no” will do just fine. This way, nobody will be disappointed, nor expect too much out of others all the time, which can cause stress overload leading to burnout eventually.

It’s also important to reduce work-related tasks when feeling overwhelmed. A lot of BCBAs start getting burned out by doing too many things at once, so make sure you take advantage of opportunities available where you can reduce some workload without affecting other processes. 

For one way to save time and reduce stress, try using our BCBA Supervision Session Note template for your next session. It can be filled out and shared electronically or printed.

Strive for Growth

Make sure that you are learning something new at work to reduce your chances of feeling overwhelmed. This way, if anything goes wrong in the future, you will be able to solve it effectively without getting too stressed out about what might happen next.

Another thing that people tend to forget when trying to reduce stress levels and reduce their risk for burnout is getting enough rest every night so they can wake up fresh and full of energy throughout the day, instead of struggling through each task and focusing on when bedtime will come again.

Stay Positive

When it comes down to reducing your risk for burnout, staying positive is one of the best ways. Make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who will encourage and support you no matter what, rather than people who bring you down. This can reduce stress levels very easily and also encourage a positive work environment.

When somebody has a negative thought about themselves or their abilities, try your best not to join in on this kind of thinking because it’s ultimately not productive for either party.

You should also take care of your mental health. A lot of people reduce their stress levels by exercising or meditating to reduce the pressure that they go through every day at work. This is because you are making sure that your mind and body are both in good shape, and you’re not getting too stressed out about life’s problems.

Live a Burnout-Free Lifestyle

Now is the time to act if you feel burned out, so get to work on fixing it! While it might seem stressful to make so many changes while you feel behind in the workplace, it’ll ultimately be better for you in the long term in achieving a work life balance

If you’ve experienced burnout and found other techniques effective, reach out to us. We’d be happy to report back on them to everyone else reading this piece.

If you found this blog post on How to Prevent BCBA/RBT Burnout interesting or effective, please share with your coworkers, other friends in the industry, or anyone you know who may be burned out from work!

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