Finishing up with a complex young client – tie up loose ends and avoid burnout

  • Tuesday, June 14, 2016
  • Shona Innes Psychology

The research on burnout among those who work with complex young people indicates strongly that it’s important to finish what we start in appropriate ways. We know that it’s not healthy for health service practitioners to leave things unsorted in our experience.

Here I explain why it’s so important for you (or your staff) to tie up loose ends after finishing work with a complex young person, and how this can be done so that you best serve their future as well as manage the impact on your own work life as a support worker.

Complex young clients may exit your agency for a number of reasons: they’ve reached a certain age, their funding has ceased, they’ve transitioned into or out of custody or treatment, completed an order, or moved to a new region. It’s wonderful when clients do well, but let’s face it, working with complex young people with involvement across a range of services and agencies means it’s sometimes hard to see any gains; and even if you do, there can be huge spaces of time between positive gains or outcomes.

It’s important for support workers to tie up loose ends, finish what we start and gain a sense of finality when we finish working with a complex young person. A lack of closure or the absence of a feeling of success can result in a sense of professional loss.

Over time, a constant series of broken connections and professional losses can erode professional self esteem and confidence in the team or system. We can begin to question our worth in the positions we hold or the totality of services we can offer. This is an issue for all health service practitioners – new and experienced – and one that can sneak outside of work and start to affect private lives, too. We can become burnt out.

For team leaders and managers, burnout in staff means risking the loss of skilled staff, interruptions to the relationships important to assist complex young people, a greater number of sick days and cynicism in a team.

To avoid the consequences of burnout, consider providing your staff with external peer consultation to

  • assist them in processing their experiences with clients positively;
  • manage any sense of loss;
  • bring closure;
  • enable them to plan for similar situations in the future; and
  • identify any gaps in training that may need to be filled.

To find out more, please call Shona Innes Psychology on 0400 150 106 or email or contact us via the website.