University of Birmingham, UK
Title: Can too much resilience be a bad thing?
Biography: Alan Dovey
At first this title might easily produce the answer “No”, but this presentation will hopefully open up reflective thought amongst practitioners in the field of positive psychology, clinical psychology and psychotherapy. I have worked as a Consultant Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist in the field of occupational health for 20 years and over the last 5 years I have seen more individuals with symptoms of acute and chronic “burn-out” than ever before. Burnout is a prolonged response to long-term emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job. The key dimensions of this response are overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, a sense of ineffectiveness and a lack of accomplishment. It is this “prolonged response” to pressure that maintains high appraisals of threat thus maintaining high arousal/anxiety on a biological level. Eventually symptoms of “burn out” develop and lead to clinical depression. Understanding how burnout can be prevented and treated in workplaces is of great importance both from a public health perspective and for businesses aiming to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. Now the focus is on 2 areas- The environment- ensuring the workplace environment is conducive to employees’ health and well-being. The individual- ensuring the individual builds effective protective factors that act as emotional buffers to the environmental pressures. The latter requires practitioners to understand the concept of “over-resilience” as to how this can contribute to burn-out rather than a lack of protective factors. In their recent article Chamorro-Premuzic and Lusk (2017) allude to this by suggesting that even adaptive competencies become maladaptive if taken to the extreme. This presentation will provide a cognitive behavioural formulation of some of these maladaptive strategies he has experienced in clinical practice as well as the theory that underpins the role, they have in precipitating burn out.