cited in Angerer, 2003). Unfortunately, it would seem that most helping professionals, including counselors, possess characteristics which predisposed them to this construct. For example, Lambie notes that, "Counselors may have increased susceptibility to burnout because of their training to be empathic which is essential to the formation of a therapeutic relationship. In fact, research has found counselor empathy to account for two thirds of the variance in supporting clients' positive behavioral change" (p. 32). The ability to remain empathic to the plights and challenges typically being experienced by students in community colleges is complicated by the enormous diversity that is increasingly characterizing these institutions, of course, but all helping professionals run the risk of becoming burned out while performing their responsibilities by virtue of their empathic sharing. In this regard, Lambie emphasizes that, "Empathy helps counselors understand the client's experience, but at the same time, a counselor may experience the emotional pain of multiple traumatized clients. Empathy is a double-edged sword; it is simultaneously your greatest asset and a point of real vulnerability; therefore, a fundamental skill of effective counselors, being empathic, may place counselors at high risk for burnout" (p. 33).
Citing the alarming results of a national survey of counselors that indicated that incidence may be almost 40%, Lambie also emphasizes that although all professions involve some degree of stress, counselors and other human service providers are at higher risk of burnout compared to other professionals. For example, this author notes that, "Counseling professionals are often in close contact with people who are in pain and distress. This continuous exposure to others' despair, combined with rare opportunities to share the benefits of clients' successes, heightens counselors' risk for burnout" (Lambie, p. 34). Other authorities confirm the incidence of burnout among educators, and cite even higher rates than the foregoing estimate. For instance, Cheek, Bradley and Lan (2003) report that, "Based on several international studies, approximately 60% to 70% of all teachers repeatedly show symptoms of stress, and a minimum of 30% of all educators show distinct symptoms of burnout" (p. 204). Indeed, a study by Lumsden (1998) determined that overall teacher morale was sufficiently severe that fully 40% of the educators who were surveyed indicated they would not choose teaching again as a career, and far more than half (57%) remained undecided at the time concerning ending their teaching career, were actively making plans to leave teaching, or would opt to leave the teaching field in the event a superior opportunity presented itself.
There are some other qualities that typify school counselors that may predispose them to becoming burned out over the course of time (some quicker than others, of course), but which may reasonably be expected to adversely effect the ability of school counselors to maintain their effectiveness in the workplace. For instance, Lambie concludes that, "Common counselor qualities of being selfless (i.e., putting others first), working long hours, and doing whatever it takes to help a client place them at higher susceptibility to burnout. As a result, counselors may themselves need assistance in dealing with the emotional pressures of their work" (p. 34).
Counselors and Characteristics of Burnout