Tag Archives: workplace stress

Working with adults who bully

By Lisa R. Rhodes May 12, 2023

Man standing over a woman at a work desk reprimanding her.

imtmphoto/Shutterstock.com

Everyone can remember being bullied. Maybe someone teased you relentlessly about your name because it “sounded funny” or they made fun of your physical appearance. Maybe someone pushed you around in the schoolyard, gossiped about you behind your back or made sure you were never invited to a birthday party.

Unfortunately, some children don’t outgrow these bullying behaviors, and the tendency to bully others can continue into adulthood. “Children who bully other children are more likely to bully as an adult,” says Tony Grace, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and co-owner of Second Growth Counseling in Portland, Oregon. “They are five times more likely to have a criminal record, 10 times more likely to deceive others, six times more likely to fight other adults and three times more likely to harass.”

Research shows that adult bullying is common and many people are affected by it. A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association in 2017, found that 31% of Americans have been bullied as an adult. And approximately 48.6 million Americans were bullied at work in 2021, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).

“Adult bullying behavior can take many forms and it can happen in any social arena where there are two or more people involved,” Grace says. “That means bullying can not only happen in the workplace, but also in places of worship [and] spiritual settings, mission-driven organizations, PTA committees, parent-child playgroups and the home.”

The impact of adult bullying

Since most adults don’t usually physically threaten or attack other adults, adult bullying is often covert, Grace says, but it is no less violent in its effect on a target’s psyche and well-being. For example, a spouse in a marriage may require that only their needs are met, resulting in a relationship that is not authentic or equitable for the other spouse, he says. The bullying spouse may insist on having an open marriage — but only for themselves — or they may refuse to pay any bills and make extravagant purchases for themselves, leaving the other spouse to handle a constrained budget.

“The negative impact of bullying can be overwhelming and long-lasting,” Grace adds. “Bullying can cause anxiety, depression, panic attacks and/or disorders, suicidal ideation and somatic disorders, among other issues,” for the person who is the target of the bully. It can also have a negative impact on the person with bullying behaviors; for example, bullying may lead to recurrent loss of meaningful relationships, a sense of loneliness and a feeling of always being on edge.

Jessi Eden Brown, a licensed mental health counselor and LPC in Lake Forest Park, Washington, who works as the professional coach for WBI, says bullying is “truly a global problem.” It affects people of all races, ethnic groups, socioeconomic backgrounds and religions, and workplace bullying can be experienced at any time during a person’s career.

“The lingering effects from a bullying experience can be remarkable,” Brown says. “It may take years to recover from an experience like this.”

Adult bullying can be so detrimental that it can unhinge the self-esteem of the person who is being bullied and ruin their close relationships. Bullying in the workplace can also lead to absenteeism and poor performance. For example, Brown says a supervisor may transfer an employee to another department to isolate them from the rest of the team or to remove the resources they need to do their job. A supervisor may also unfairly criticize an employee’s work performance or hold the employee to a different professional standard than others on the team.

Melissa Spino, an LPC at Life Transitions Therapy in Lowell, Michigan, says clients who bully others in the workplace may engage in aggressive, passive-aggressive and hostile communication, or they may use personal attacks, false and hurtful rumors, and insults to target employees of a specific gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Adults who bully others may have also been negatively affected by bullying. Spino says these individuals have often experienced trauma in childhood and have been bullied by others. They may have learned their harmful behavior from their family of origin, where they used the behavior as a coping mechanism and it became a behavioral norm.

Research shows that children who were not only targeted by bullies but who also bullied others, also known as “bully-victims,” have negative experiences as adults. In an article published in Psychological Science in 2013, Dieter Wolke and colleagues stated that victims of childhood bullying, particularly chronic victims and bully-victims “are at increased risk for adverse health, wealth and social functioning in adulthood.”

Spino has also found that adults who bully others sometimes struggle with mental health issues such as narcissism, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, substance use disorder, impulse control issues or depression. They may also exhibit low self-esteem or self-worth or even be on the autism spectrum. Some of her clients have also presented with suicidal ideation.

Adults who engage in bullying behavior often feel powerless in their personal lives, Spino adds. “They may be living with someone that is very controlling, have a mental health disorder or [are being bullied by someone they know],” she says. “Some engage in displacement and take this out on co-workers or those they supervise in the form of bullying behaviors.”

Whether in the workplace or at home, bullying always involves an unequal power dynamic between the bully and the person being targeted. “All bullying involves a person with power,” Brown notes. An adult bully “demeans, humiliates or harms someone they feel may be vulnerable. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, there is harm.”

Reluctance to seek help

The counselors interviewed for this article acknowledge that although adult bullies engage in unhealthy behaviors and can experience unhealthy thinking patterns, they rarely, if ever, seek treatment for these mental health issues. Spino says that most of the clients who come to her practice for help with bullying describe being “forced” to come.

“Most often adult bullies seek treatment because a spouse threatens to leave them or their employer mandates it as a remedy for problem work behaviors,” she explains. “For employers, it’s often a final attempt to avoid terminating a valuable employee.” Some of Spino’s clients have also been mandated by the court to be treated for anger management because of their aggressive bullying behavior.

Grace says about 10% of his caseload is made up of clients who present bullying behavior, but he has found that these clients don’t self-identify as bullies or see their behaviors as bullying. “They may see their relationships as problematic, but I have never had someone come in saying, ‘Please help me, I am a bully,’” he notes.

In fact, he finds that these clients are often reluctant to take responsibility for their actions or notice how their actions have negatively affected others or themselves. He says adult bullies can see themselves as victims, tend to have an external locus of control and often justify their behaviors or actions.

“In many cases, the client will want to focus on changing the behavior of others, whether it’s partners, parents, siblings or co-workers,” Grace adds. “This desire to change others is the same emotional posture of bullying. [They want to] control others’ behaviors in order to gain something from them.”

Grace says counselors can encourage this clientele to participate in therapy by advising them that a change in their behavior can help to protect their professional reputation and save the relationships that they profess are meaningful to them, such as ones with a romantic partner or their children.

Counselors can also help adults who bully recognize the importance of their existential growth, Grace says. “Bullying clients can benefit from being reminded that everyone has something to process, evolve into or grow from,” he explains. “Anyone who claims they have life figured out and that they don’t have anything to work on is going to be a red flag for others in both personal and professional settings.”

When adult bullies do come in for treatment, Grace recommends that they watch Kathryn Schulz’s TED Talk “On being wrong” because, he says, it helps clients “recognize that being fallible is part of being human and bullying is often an attempt to never be wrong or wronged.”

Changing unhealthy thinking

Grace says clients who display bullying behaviors may also present with cognitive disorders. He has found that these clients usually demonstrate one of several distorted thought processes, which can include:

  • Dichotomous thinking: “Bullies tend to view the world with black-and-white thinking. They tend to have polarized thinking, for example, right versus wrong, good versus evil, strong versus weak and power versus helpless,” Grace explains. “Because of this polarized thinking, they tend to view themselves as good and anyone who opposes or disagrees with them as bad.”
  • Projection: “Bullies tend to project themselves onto others and attribute their own intentions, thought distortions, belief systems or values to others, and then respond accordingly,” Grace says. “For example, they tend to take criticism as a personal attack on their worth, value and competency because they often dispense criticism as a means to judge or attack others.”
  • Biased thinking: “Bullies also tend to overemphasize their target’s vulnerabilities, weaknesses, mistakes and human characteristics while minimizing or ignoring the target’s strengths, power and other positive attributes,” Grace says. “They also tend to minimize their own faults or negative attitudes while highlighting their strengths and/or good intentions.”

Adults who bully often feel a greater sense of safety and security when they are in control and have power over others, Grace adds. Therefore, counseling work often involves helping these clients challenge their worldview and their beliefs about themselves. He often uses cognitive behavioral techniques to reframe clients’ thinking and negative distortions. A few examples of the thought patterns that Grace and his clients work to reframe include:

  • “I am more than the sum of my mistakes” versus “My mistakes reveal an internal weakness or defectiveness”
  • “Not every interaction is a competition” versus “Only the best, smartest and most keen survive”
  • “I don’t need to win every conflict to be safe” versus “My safety is conditional”

Grace tries to help clients see that intimacy, vulnerability and fallibility are a part of being human. “Their worth, power and reputation are not tarnished by having these characteristics,” he says.

Spino acknowledges that although the ideal treatment for adult bullies would be to stop their unhealthy behaviors and replace them with healthy ones, this isn’t always realistic. “Especially when the majority don’t want help, won’t acknowledge they are the problem or accept any responsibility for their actions,” she adds.

Spino says she uses schema-focused cognitive therapy with these clients because “it integrates cognitive therapy with other psychological treatment approaches.” She finds it is especially helpful for clients with personality disorders or deeply ingrained patterns, which she says is often the case with adults who display bullying behavior. During the intake process, Spino also uses counseling assessment software to learn about her clients’ personality, home of origin, and thinking and anger patterns.

Spino once worked with a client who was engaging in bullying behavior in the workplace. Through assessment, she learned that this client had experienced parental neglect during childhood and had a high propensity for antisocial and narcissistic traits. This client had been bullying one co-worker because he felt this colleague was more popular than he was and was advancing at a faster pace in the company, Spino recalls. The client tried to sabotage this co-worker’s career by using aggressive behaviors and spreading untrue rumors about them at work.

During one session, she also discovered that the client had negative thoughts underlying his bullying behavior. He told her he felt that he was more intelligent than his co-worker and that he should be “the one to bring this person down” because “everyone else was too stupid” to see that this colleague really was “a nobody.”

The client, however, refused to explore any underlying issues and would often shut down when Spino brought up his bullying behavior. He refused to accept that he could be terminated for his behavior because he believed he was “irreplaceable,” she says.

When Spino suggested that they end therapy because the client wasn’t making any progress, his disposition changed. Then they were able to make some therapeutic gains by helping him to accept the company’s policies and procedures to prevent his sabotage against the co-worker. He also eventually managed to stop spreading rumors.

Bullying as a social norm

Part of the reason adults who display bullying behaviors don’t consider their behavior to be harmful or inappropriate is because society often views those same behaviors as socially acceptable, Grace says. For example, he says that it’s common practice for adults to spread gossip about others, which can be harmful or humiliating, and at work people in subordinate roles are often unable to review their managers or people in higher leadership positions.

“Our culture tends to elevate or promote people who have antisocial behaviors,” Grace says. “We call it professionalism, or we call it ambition. We call it something other than bullying behavior.”

Grace says society often has a fawn response to adult bullying behavior, and he believes more bullies would seek counseling if society did not hold them in high esteem, give them positions of power or minimize the consequences of their behavior.

“Unfortunately, instead of seeing adult bullying behavior as violent and antisocial, we tend to make them out to be heroes and thus shower them with fame, fortune and more power,” Grace says. “Why would a bully want to change their behaviors when they gain so much from it?”

Although therapy could help adult bullies increase a sense of empathy and respect for others, this can be a challenging task for therapists. “They [the clients] really don’t [want to] learn empathy and true respect but instead learn to fake it by accepting it as a social norm they need to adhere to in order to function in society,” Spino notes.

Brown says that some organizations and companies cultivate a culture of bullying. For example, organizational leaders may develop policies that place additional strain or pressure on employees (e.g., unforgiving attendance policies that allow for harsh, quick disciplinary actions) or that place a high value on competition among employees.

“Some managers see bullying as a valid form of motivation,” Brown says. They may not see anything wrong with mistreating an employee in a subordinate role, and they may excuse their own behavior by saying “that’s how we operate,” and that they are following the company’s rules, she adds.

Brown works with adult bullies through WBI’s Respectful Conduct Clinic, a service provided to companies that have identified a bully and want to give the person a chance to improve their professional skills before taking any steps for termination. WBI helps these companies develop new policies, trainings and enforcement protocols to prevent and stop bullying, while also defining a new standard of workplace behavior that applies to all employees, she explains.

As WBI’s professional coach, Brown helps employees who bully come to terms with their mistreatment of others and uses her counseling skills to help them gain insight into their unwelcome behavior. She says she usually begins session with a friendly, open statement such as “Your employer asked me to meet with you today. I’m guessing you might have some ideas or thoughts about why. What do you think is happening here?”

She then shares the employer’s concerns regarding the bullying behavior and outlines the consequences with the client, without disclosing the identity of the co-worker who is being bullied. She also uses psychoeducation about workplace bullying and mobbing (group bullying) to try to help the bully understand why their behavior is unacceptable. The bully is then presented with the company’s new workplace standards and is given the opportunity to remain with the employer and adhere to the new guidelines or voluntarily resign.

“It may sound harsh, but this method is quite effective in eradicating bullying from the workplace and restoring a culture of safety and respect,” Brown says.

Holding adults who bully accountable

The counselors interviewed for this article stress that although adults who bully can be challenging to treat, it is imperative that clinicians engage with this population to educate them and the public about the dangers of bullying across the life span.

Spino believes that knowledge is power, so she suggests counselors work to educate others about bullying through webinars, seminars, articles and social media. “Schools, employers and our legal system need to work together to come up with best practices for dealing with bullies and holding them accountable,” she says.

Grace says that clients who display bullying behaviors also need to be shown compassion. “If you look beyond the bullying surface, you will often find someone who has deep, long-lasting wounds and unfulfilled needs,” he says.

Although counseling can help some of these clients change their behavior, Grace also acknowledges that real change is a systemic effort. “Change cannot just happen on an individual level but must happen socially and with the societal structures we have built that actually reward bullying behavior,” he stresses.

Brown agrees that accountability is critical for adults who engage in bullying behaviors. “Regular counseling presents a unique opportunity to experiment with different behaviors, explore the outcomes and commit to demonstrable change,” she says. “It is a safe environment, without judgment, where the individual can develop a deeper understanding of their behavior and stumble through the difficult work of transforming how they relate to others.”

////

Read more about helping clients who have experienced adult bullying in the online exclusive “The mental toll of adult bullying.” 

 


Lisa R. Rhodes is a senior writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at lrhodes@counseling.org.


Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

What quiet quitting says about workplace mental health

By Samantha Cooper January 27, 2023

Closing the laptop at 5 p.m. Quiet quitting concept

Ivan Marc/Shutterstock.com

Everybody is exhausted. The COVID-19 pandemic, which started nearly three years ago, shows no signs of ending anytime soon. The disruption to the social norm has caused a lot of people to reevaluate their priorities, especially when it comes to the workplace.

In 2021, over 47 million people left their jobs, and this wave of voluntary quitting became known as the Great Resignation. Shortly after, people started hearing the phrase “quiet quitting.” This term is deceiving because it doesn’t refer to actually quitting one’s job. Rather it means “quitting the idea of going above and beyond” in the workplace, according to Zaid Khan, who’s viral TikTok popularized the phrase.

Quiet quitting is all about boundaries, says Kate Schroeder, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) at Transformation Counseling in Saint Louis. In fact, Schroeder says when she heard this term, her first thought was, “Oh, people are having boundaries.”

But the idea of having boundaries at work is not a new phenomenon at all. It’s just been given a name, notes Farah Harris, a licensed clinical professional counselor in Illinois.

“Your mom probably quiet quit on her job 40 years ago when she was like, ‘I’m pregnant. We need insurance. Let’s just get this job done,’” she says.

Who’s quiet quitting

This trend of quiet quitting is having a big impact on the workforce, with more people, particularly millennials and Gen Z workers, refusing to work beyond their basic job descriptions. A recent Gallup poll revealed that quiet quitters make up about half of the workforce.

Most quiet quitters tend to be white-collar, salaried workers says Briana Severine, an LPC at Sanare Psychosocial Rehabilitation in Denver. Of course, there are exceptions to this, she adds, especially in careers that expect employees to work far beyond the standard 40-hour work week to get ahead, such as a lawyer who wants to become a partner in the law firm.

And then there are careers, with workers who can’t quiet quit at all. People working in health care, for example, often don’t get to decide what duties they perform, when they work overtime or any number of responsibilities because somebody’s life depends on them doing their job and doing it well, Severine says.

Racism and biases further complicate one’s ability to quiet quit. People of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups can’t easily quiet quit their jobs are because doing so would reflect negatively on not just themselves but the marginalized group they belong to.

In September 2022, The Washington Post reported that people of color were disproportionately affected by the layoffs at the start of the pandemic because of how they were perceived by management. Black, Indigenous and people of color individuals also reported higher rates of burnout than their white coworkers, according to a 2021 report from Hue, a nonprofit dedicated to building workplace equity.

As a Black woman, Harris knows too well the potential consequences: “If I show myself as just mediocre, I fall into the stereotype or biases about my race, so I actually need to be more hyper present and visible so that I can still be seen and hopefully not passed over for a promotion.”

Unhealthy work boundaries

People are tired, burnt out and they’re looking for some way to cope. Most employees are struggling to maintain a work-life balance. According to research by the Adecco Group, only 17% of workers take a sick day when they’re feeling mentally unwell or burned out and only 30% use all of their holiday time. The reason behind this is that workers often can’t afford to take off time or they’re afraid of the consequences they may face if they do, such as fewer opportunities to advance.

“In the height of the pandemic, the demographic that struggled the most were parents,” Severine says. “I think during this time it became impossible for many people to be able to go above and beyond at work, they just no longer had the capacity.”

Parents, mostly mothers, who would normally send their children to school or daycare had to take on extra childcare responsibilities at home while still being expected to maintain the same pre-pandemic level of success at work.

It became impossible for them to balance it all without majorly burning themselves out. Between advancing their career and caring for their families, it was already a challenge for mothers to ‘have it all’ before the pandemic, Harris notes. And the pandemic just provided the “perfect petri dish” for everything to go wrong.

Work stress is still an issue even for those who aren’t parents or part of marginalized group. In 2015, Deloitte conducted a survey of 1,000 full-time U.S. employees and found that 83% of respondents said work burnout negatively affected their personal relationships.

These findings indicate that something needs to change in the workplace. So how can counselors help people avoid becoming burned out, especially for those who can’t quiet quit?

Where to start

There are a variety of techniques counselors can use to assist clients and others struggling with workplace boundaries. Harris, owner of WorkingWell Daily, a consultancy company focused on workplace belonging and well-being, suggests using narrative therapy and having clients ask self-reflective questions about work such as

  • What are the stories I’m telling myself about the organization?
  • Where does work fit into my life?
  • Is my work identity my identity?
  • Is my work identity aligned with my personal one?

Asking these questions will help clients learn about themselves and find ways to define themselves outside of their career. Finding out the reason behind a client’s desire to quiet quit can also help counselors find the right way to address the issue.

Severine finds values work a useful tool to help clients. “Helping a person figure out their values, their strengths and their weaknesses can help them find a job that provides the highest amount of satisfaction,” she explains.

Severine also recommends counselors use acceptance and commitment therapy to help clients who can’t change their career find solutions. She says she often tells clients, “We have three choices. We can accept the situation as it is, we can change the situation that we’re in or we can leave the situation that we’re in.”

Schroeder cautions counselors against relying on cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which isn’t enough to properly deal with burnout and the stress of the workplace. “Exploring our issues on a cognitive level is not going to get us to where we need to go. Feelings don’t happen in our brain. They happen in a much different part of us,” she says. “Feelings are not cognitive processes; they are energetic responses to what’s happening in our environment. Feelings happen in your body and in your heart, not your brain.”

“Since quiet quitting [and] burnout are essentially about someone who has blown through their own boundaries around what they need in their life to be happy and satisfied, we have to address these deeper issues in a noncognitive and experiential way,” Schroeder continues. Because issues with boundaries are related to childhood experiences, counselors need to be able to access these issues on a deep, somatic level so their clients can truly heal.

She finds Gestalt and somatic therapies to be more effective than CBT because they focus on clients accessing and connecting to feelings, which helps them integrate their feelings and transform.

“Transformation happens when someone can integrate on the energetic level what’s happened to them,” Schroeder explains. “And cognitive approaches will never be able to help someone integrate emotional experiences in the deep way necessary for transformation. … CBT approaches are strictly cognitive in nature and only address the rational, logical, linear thinking parts of your brain. …[They] are far more about understanding than about deep transformation.”

Learning how to communicate one’s feelings to coworkers and bosses may also help relieve some work-related stress. Sometimes counselors overlook simple solutions such as assertiveness training and communication skills in work-related situations, Severine notes. “We spend 40-plus hours a week with our boss and our coworkers so oftentimes if those relationships are unhealthy, it’s going to be dissatisfying,” she says.

When to quiet quit

One way counselor can determine why a client wants to quiet quit is to explore how intertwined clients’ work identity is with their own sense of self, Harris says. She finds that narrative therapy, as well as CBT, work well in unraveling these ties. For example, she may ask clients, “What are the thoughts about why you want to quit your job? What beliefs do you have around work? Where did that come from?”

The idea is to use these therapies to figure out why the client feels the way they do. She really wants clients to dig into the why they’re quiet quitting, so they can figure out whether the solution is leaving one company for another or going down a different route completely. She sometimes asks, ““Before you send that resignation, do you really want to quit this company or do you just not like your job?”

“As clinicians, we really need to help our clients tap into naming those emotions, being able to recognize how that emotion is showing up in their body,” Harris says. Helping clients become more emotionally fluent and in tune with what their body is telling them (such as if they get a certain pain every time they pull up to their office) will help them make a decision.

Employees don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses, Severine stresses. Workplaces can help is by acknowledging that employees should be given a lot of say in how their workplace functions. In addition, giving employees more control over how and when they work will make them more engaged in the workplace and make them less likely to quiet quit.

What most employees need, Severine says, is flexibility. For example, if an employee has to drop their child off at school at 9 a.m. but they’re also expected to be at the office at the same time, then giving them an extra half hour to get to the office (and letting them work a half hour later) could fix an issue that is causing them stress.

Quiet quitting can have many benefits if people do it for the correct reasons, such as taking care of their health or of a family member, instead of just doing it because they hate their job, she adds.

Schroeder says that unless someone is in a toxic situation, quiet quitting should not be their go-to move. If someone is slacking off at their job because they feel the job is overwhelming or difficult, then that issue may still be there if they start a new job. Instead, they need to figure out why they’re slacking off and then address that issue, she says.

Often, the underlying reasons behind quiet quitting revolve around the need for people to set better boundaries, which can help them create a healthier work-life balance, Severine says. Setting boundaries takes a lot of effort. For some, it can mean improving time management skills, so they don’t have to work overtime, or it may mean they don’t do extra work on the weekends or holidays, she adds.

“If you are quiet quitting over hating your job, I think that quiet quitting will likely do nothing to improve that,” Severine says. “Getting clear about what is the problem and being able to effectively communicate that to leadership to see if there are solutions to be found would be much healthier. Or using that information to find a job that would be better suited and lead to more satisfaction.”

 


Samantha Cooper is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at scooper@counseling.org.


Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

Tips to navigate workload and prevent burnout  

Celine Cluff  December 9, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has left few sectors untouched when it comes to burnout. With an ever-increasing need for sector-specific crisis measures to mitigate some of the stressors faced by workers globally, society finds itself in midst of a burnout epidemic. The biggest issue we face collectively is that burning out in one’s professional life also leaves one struggling in one’s personal life. This carry-over effect is what many counselors and psychologists are seeing in their practice today.  

As we prepare to enter another holiday season — a time that can add stress to a routine that is already hectic — people need to check in with themselves and consider how they are feeling during this busy time of the year. This simple step can make all the difference, and it might even improve their relationships with loved ones.  

The need for interpersonal connection 

Virtual therapy and telehealth platforms are continuing to emerge as a by-product of the pandemic. These resources can provide some of the emotional support people need to get through the day. For example, the company Spring Health offers virtual therapy to the employees of organizations that have added the platform to their health benefits package. It is hopeful that these telehealth platforms will also become available and affordable for everyone — regardless of employment status — especially older people and those living in rural areas.  

These virtual counseling platforms, however, do not replace some of the vital interpersonal relationships humans need to thrive and build resilience. This includes their relationship with their counselor. The connections people have with each other are important ingredients in helping them feel there is meaning in life beyond what they achieve as part of a task or job.  

Much like a forest where trees are interconnected with each other via their root systems, people are also connected to their community on a deeper level. This connection, however, can be compromised if other environmental factors have a negative impact on people. Recent research on pandemic-specific stressors has revealed that professionals working in health care might benefit from coping strategies that are geared toward nourishing interpersonal connections.

Although meeting and socializing with others in person used to be a common occurrence, now it is often overshadowed by all the ways in which people connect virtually, from one bandwidth to another.

Preventing work-related burnout 

Dr. Maria Gualano, who was recently listed as one of the top 2% of scientists in the world according to Stanford University, conducted a systemic review in 2021 and found that three factors appear to have played a prevalent role in causing health care professionals to burn out during the COVID-19 pandemic. These factors are emotional exhaustion, high levels of depersonalization and the lack of personal accomplishments.  

Focusing on the prevention of these three factors may help people develop new norms that promote their well-being in midst of a global health crisis.  

Here are six tips on how employees can target and counteract feelings of emotional exhaustion and high stress related to work:  

  • Take breaks throughout the workday. Research from Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab shows that breaks allow the brain to reset, which can help reduce the cumulative buildup of stress. Even taking breaks in small seven-minute increments throughout the workday can make a difference if done regularly. One way to ensure you are taking a break from work is to turn off work notifications in the evenings. But if your job requires you to be on call for an extended period, then you could carve out a few minutes for yourself throughout the day (e.g., taking mental breaks for seven minutes several times a day). Although evidence on shorter workweek benefits is limited, the emerging literature shows that employees report feeling happier at work when working a shorter workweek. In addition, when people feel connected to the work they do, their well-being increases. So weaving more leisure time (even minutes) into one’s workweek can help increase feelings of well-being and lead to better work engagement, which in turn results in better work outcomes. 
  • Develop a point system for unwinding. Typically, I like to count one point for every 10 minutes of doing something that is not work-related (or better yet: look out a window). Find a point system that is suitable for your lifestyle, and then aim to accumulate a certain number of points over the course of a workweek. Achieving your goal for the week helps you feel accomplished, and this can lead to a cumulative effect.  
  • Adopt a growth mindset. In a Tedx talk on the power of belief, growth mindset expert Eduardo Briceno said we can cultivate a growth mindset by accepting that we are not chained to our capabilities. This uplifting and inspirational message is one we must all internalize in times of stress and uncertainty. I invite you to think deeply about what it means to be successful and at what cost. Only through personal reflection can we maximize outcomes at work and in our personal lives. It helps us learn about ourselves and why we do what we do.  
  • Shift the perspective. An inspiring way to ground yourself is to take an imaginary field trip to the moon and look back at Earth. There are no deadlines, no objectives. The beauty of this exercise lies in reflecting on the miracle of life itself, not what is accomplished throughout it. It invites you to take a step back from all the noise you encounter as part of daily life, and instead focus only on what is necessary. If practiced regularly, this activity can work to alleviate some of the chronic stress people associate with work deadlines.  
  • Spend time doing something for yourself regularly. When it comes to meeting work demands, people are quick to prioritize deadlines over themselves, which can lead to people feeling disconnected from their work and associating it with stress. In general, burnout rates increase when people feel they have no control over their workload and stress levels. In a society that celebrates being busy, putting oneself first should be at the top of the to-do list. Self-care is crucial in maintaining a pace that is sustainable and healthy. This rings especially true during the holidays. We often feel pressure to participate in all the festivities, bake sales, cheer, and so on. But sometimes it’s OK to not spread yourself so thin. Choose one contribution and be proud of it — your time is valuable.  
  • Seek out a qualified counselor. This is inarguably the most important tip for those wanting to combat burnout. Seeking out a registered counselor is pivotal in the prevention of a burnout episode because they understand the underlying challenges faced by those who struggle with managing a heavy workload and are trained to provide the tools necessary to prevent escalation. Whether someone works in health care or another industry, identifying the root causes that resulted in a burnout episode with a counselor can be the first step in implementing a solution.  

 


 

Profile picture of Celine Cluff, the authorCeline Cluff is a registered clinical counselor and researcher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She holds a master’s degree in psychoanalytic studies from Middlesex University in London and recently completed her doctorate in psychology at Adler University in Chicago. Her private practice focuses on family therapy, couples therapy and parenting challenges. Contact her at celine.cluff@yahoo.com. 


 

Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association. 

Compromising care: An occupational hazard for counseling leaders

By Lindsay Johnson and Ane Turner Johnson August 10, 2022

When we sought to interview women directors of counseling centers about their experiences, we weren’t exactly sure what we’d discover. All we knew was that we were interested in their unique leadership experience given the conflicting values between care work and higher education today.

Higher education is not that different from many other large organizations. According to Bernie Grummell and colleagues’ article published in the journal Gender and Education in 2009, institutions are influenced by capitalism and therefore are more focused on the bottom line and on employees working solely for the benefit of the organization (even if it is to the detriment of their personal lives), resulting in what is considered to be a “care-less” organization. In a 2010 article for Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, Kathleen Lynch notes that this care-lessness manifests in leaders and workers becoming cutthroat, ruthless and selfish in order to excel within the organization.

As women working in a university setting for, cumulatively, over 20 years, we have become well attuned to the differing values between care divisions and the larger institution. And we have noticed that trying to lead divisions centered on providing care, such as a counseling center, within this care-less organization of higher education is fraught with tensions and contradictions.

Additionally, gender inequities inherent to higher education produces a gendered organization with its own set of challenges. As theorized by Joan Acker, gendered organizations create and maintain overt and covert practices, cultural dynamics and social norms based on gender that hinder women, especially their movement into leadership positions. Understanding how women directors navigate leading a care work division while also negotiating their role as a “care-less leader” within a gendered organization is essential to uncovering the interaction between gender, leadership and care work within the care-less landscape of higher education.

Photographee.eu/Shutterstock.com

Our curiosity in this topic spurred us to interview 13 women directors of college and university counseling centers from across the country. We wanted to know what it was like for them as leaders and how they experienced their dichotomous work environment. Using heuristic inquiry, we uncovered a culture clash between contemporary higher education and counseling that further marginalizes women leaders, particularly leaders of care work, by forcing them to compromise their care values and identities. These compromises are inevitable; to embody the role of a leader within the care-less organization of higher education, counseling leaders need to trade off some of their care roles, values and practices for those of the care-less culture. Without these compromises, counseling leaders risk their leadership status and effectiveness in the organization.

You may be reading this and thinking, “Yikes, this seems pretty bleak as a leader in the counseling profession.” Although that was our initial reaction, it also spurred us to consider how this knowledge could be useful. To us, these insights help professional counselors and counseling leaders within care-less settings prepare themselves for the internal (and sometimes external) assault on their values and identities. Also, this knowledge can help start a larger conversation within and outside the counseling field about care-less organizations and how care-lessness influences care work. In the following sections, we describe three ways in which the directors expressed they had to compromise care as a leader within a care-less context and three takeaways for counseling leaders.

Compromising care 

As mentioned previously, care-less work is born from our capitalist society that focuses mainly on profits and productivity rather than emotional connection. Bernie Grummell and colleagues in a 2009 article in Gender and Education and Henry Giroux in 2002 article in Harvard Educational Review explain that care-less organizations reward, value and idealize workers who can fully commit themselves to the job, put aside personal time and be unencumbered by any other type of duty. According to Sheila Slaughter and Larry Leslie in a 2001 article in Organization, higher education has become one such care-less organization, and therefore the presumption is that university faculty and staff, especially the leaders, will embody this ideal care-less worker. But these care-less values are in direct contrast to those of a division focused on care, such as a counseling center. As a result, leaders in these divisions must at times reprioritize their care to better align with the care-less institution. From our interviews, we found that counseling leaders often have to compromise care in the following three areas: care identities, leadership styles and practices, and care values.

1) Compromising care identities. The counseling leaders we interviewed said that compromises to care arose from the competing needs and values of their identities as a director, woman (for some this also included being a mother) and care worker (as professionals in the counseling field). As a result, they were forced to make sacrifices in their care roles given that it was impossible to effectively perform such roles while being the director of a counseling center. For example, one woman shared about her identity as a mother and how the director position affected the time spent with her children. She explained, “I get a call two weeks ago to do a suicide assessment with my kid in the bathtub, and I’m like, ‘I have to call you back, I have my kid in the tub,’ so I need to get my kid to my husband to be able to call back.” Another director echoed similar sentiments in regard to time spent with her father: “The hardest thing is I’ve been on call for so many years. … I can’t just go home and spend time with my father uninterrupted. … It can be a serious lifestyle inhibitor.” 

These examples exemplify the ways in which the care-less culture of higher education, and subsequent expectations of its leaders, infiltrate the personal lives of counseling leaders. The care-less culture contrasts with their care role as mothers and family caregivers and at times it was impossible to effectively perform both roles at the same time. Making personal sacrifices in their external care roles could risk their status as leaders within a care-less organization.

Counselors will also need to make professional care compromises when leading in a care-less organization. All the directors we spoke to still maintained involvement in clinical work; however, it was significantly minimized in order to manage their administrative position. One director with many years in her role explained why holding both identities (as care worker and leader) concurrently was nearly impossible. She said, “I started my role as director with a large caseload, but then I was trying to figure out how to be director and I was mediocre at both things — mediocre in the therapy room, mediocre as a director. … I can’t be doing good therapy and be thinking, ‘I forgot to approve someone’s vacation time.’ … I learned that I really needed to be more of an administrator.”

It’s challenging enough to sustain the engagement level involved in doing care work while also juggling administrative duties and expectations. Now add to that the complications that arise when working in an environment where the values of the care-less organization clash with the values of the care work being done. Therefore, being an effective administrator requires counseling leaders to make compromises to their care worker identity in some way.

2) Compromising leadership styles and practices. Another area where counseling leaders will most likely have to make compromises is in their leadership styles and practices. The directors we interviewed expressed that their leadership style is servant or feminist based, both of which are driven by care-oriented values such as collaboration, transparency and support. But at times they had to compromise those values and adapt a style that was more authoritative, political and guarded to navigate the murky waters of the greater care-less organization. One director explained why these changes needed to happen in her position: “I’m more guarded outside our office, in part because … I think there’s competition among departments. … There’s a bit of gamesmanship, so I need to be more strategic.” This statement reflects how our values as counseling leaders are compromised at times in a care-less organization to effectively do the job, such as obtaining appropriate resources.

3) Compromising care values. Counseling leaders may also have to make compromises to their care values in care-less settings. These compromises come as a result of the care-less cultural norms inherent to care-less environments. For example, students and their guardians may make demands of the university that are not necessarily in the best interest of the student’s mental health. But because the student (and whomever is financially supporting their college endeavors) are the “consumer,” the university is likely to appease these individuals. Middle managers of the institution, such as counseling center directors, are then subjected to following these decisions made by university leadership, without regard to care values. These compromises can range from keeping a student at the university when it may not be in their best interest to shrinking individual services or expanding group treatment in order to treat more students. Therefore, counseling leaders are forced to let the consumer dictate what is the care plan versus what they, as professionals, know would be most beneficial.

Lessons for caring care-lessly 

Learning how care-less contexts affect care leaders helps demonstrate the conflicts and unique challenges that arise for counseling leaders within higher education. These findings from our interviews with directors of counseling centers provides three important takeaways for other professional counselors who are already leading or will be leading counseling centers within care-less settings.

Lesson 1: Expect to feel conflicted. It was evident from our interviews with these directors that counseling leaders should expect to feel conflicted regularly when working in care-less settings. That is because care work leaders must reconcile their personal, and perhaps divisional/departmental, roles and values with those of the organization when they are in direct conflict to those of the organization. Research such as Simon Black’s 2015 article in Open Journal of Leadership supports this finding that care work leaders in care-less settings have internal conflict because of contradictory values. These leaders should also expect to feel conflicted because sometimes they will need to make sacrifices that come at the expense of their care identities. While counseling leaders may expect, and prepare for, ethical or legal challenges in their positions, the clash of personal and professional values may be less expected. By understanding this before entering the field, counseling leaders can reflect upon these compromises and prepare by doing things such as creating a plan as to when and how they may want to make such sacrifices.

Lesson 2: Expect to become flexible. As noted previously, we discovered that counseling leaders in care-less contexts often had to alter their leadership style when navigating spaces outside of their care division. Therefore, counseling leaders should expect to be flexible in their leadership approaches if they are going to get their care divisional needs met in a care-less organization. Although servant leadership can help individuals manage very challenging work obligations, as explained by Emin Babakus and colleagues in a 2010 article in Services Marketing Quarterly, it has been shown to be less effective in organizations that have more masculine-oriented values, such as care-less organizations, as described by the findings of Yucheng Zhang and others in an article published in Asia Pacific Journal of Management in 2021. When counselors in higher education lead a care division within a care-less organization, they must be ready to shift leadership styles based on what’s needed in the moment. Therefore, counseling leaders should be knowledgeable of multiple leadership styles, recognize when it is best to use practices associated with each style and be prepared to apply these different techniques. 

Lesson 3: Expect to be held accountable. The last takeaway for counseling leaders in care-less contexts is that compromising care can come at the expense of client’s or patient’s well-being and the care leader is most likely going to be held accountable. To us, this compromise is the hardest to stomach, and greatest call to action, as a care worker. We described earlier in this article how care-less organizational leaders may at times make decisions that affect care divisions and go against the values and professional judgment of counseling leaders. As a result, the clients or patients may suffer and view the care division as the culprit, and the organization is not likely to take the blame given its care-less values. This sabotages the leadership of care leaders. Counseling leaders should be aware of this when entering into care-less contexts and have a plan for how to manage conversations with leadership when such issues arise. This grim reality should also initiate conversations and more research around care-less cultures, including how they impact quality care and who accepts responsibility for such compromises to care.

In summary, it is important for professional counselors to understand that it is impossible for them to embody the values of their care worker identity while simultaneously working as a leader within a care-less organization. The inability to maintain both identities concurrently results in compromises made to one in order to embody the other. Therefore, counseling leaders in care-less settings should understand that compromises to their care identity must come in order for them to maintain their leadership role. As counseling leaders, this brings us to a crossroads. As we continue to expand our leadership into other industries, especially those that are care-less organizations, we must choose a path. We can either prepare ourselves to compromise our values and identities to fit into the care-less culture, or we can choose to confront the culture of care-less organizations. The latter choice raises several questions: Can care workers truly change the culture of a care-less organization? Do the care-less leaders need to be the ones to start a culture shift? Could counseling leaders be the catalyst for care-less culture changes? There’s only one way for us to find out.

 

****

Lindsay Johnson is a licensed professional counselor and outreach coordinator at Rowan University’s Counseling and Psychological Services in Glassboro, New Jersey. She specializes in the treatment of disorders of over-control and is the team leader for the Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy consultation team at Rowan’s Wellness Center. She recently completed her doctorate in educational leadership at Rowan University. Contact her at johnsonln@rowan.edu.

Ane Turner Johnson is a professor of educational leadership at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. She teaches research methods and conducts research on issues related to higher education governance and policy making.

 

Counseling Today reviews unsolicited articles written by American Counseling Association members. To access writing guidelines and tips for having an article accepted for publication, visit ct.counseling.org/feedback.

****

Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

Counseling girls and women in the current cultural climate

By Tracy Peed, Crissa Allen, Mary A. Hermann, J. Richelle Joe and Anna M. Viviani May 5, 2022

This piece is the second of a three-part series for CT Online. It is the result of the work of ACA President S. Kent Butler’s Gender Equity Task Force. The first article, “Breaking the binary: Transgender and gender expansive equality,” was published on April 4 and the third article “The effects of gender socialization on boys and men,” was published on June 15.

Unsplash.com

In this article, we highlight gender equity issues that impact girls and women and provide recommendations for counselors who work with this population.

Complex realities of girls and women

Girls and women experience complex realities. Despite their increased opportunities in the past several decades, they face pervasive limiting gender norms. For example, girls and women are still dissuaded from entering STEM fields and encounter a “chilly climate” in STEM classrooms, resulting in significant underrepresentation in STEM fields. Furthermore, girls and women with additional marginalized identities experience heightened challenges.

The supergirl and superwoman ideals permeate popular culture and media. Selective, digitally altered social media posts send the message that the superwoman ideal is achievable, and even easily accessible. The narrow construct of feminine beauty further complicates these messages. Girls’ and women’s socialization to “have it all” has become more difficult, with work hours continuing to increase in many professions as technology creates new norms related to worker availability.

In addition, women engage in the invisible work of navigating the gender bias that remains prevalent in the workplace. Women still earn significantly less than men for the same work, and this reality is compounded by racism. For example, white, non-Hispanic women who work full time earn 79% of what white, non-Hispanic men earn, whereas African American women earn approximately 64% and Hispanic women earn 57% of what white, non-Hispanic men earn. Adding to this challenge, negotiating a higher salary is more complicated for women because it defies social stereotypes.

Women who are mothers have experienced heightened parenting expectations in recent decades. They engage in more child-centered activities than mothers did in the 1960s, a time when most mothers of young children did not work outside of the home. Yet, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 75% of mothers of young children worked outside of the home.

Working mothers in the United States attempt to meet societal motherhood expectations while maintaining employment without the supportive infrastructure found in almost all other industrialized countries. The cost of child care often exceeds the cost of rent. Paid family leave is not available in many work settings, driving 25% of mothers back on the job within two weeks of giving birth. And despite the lack of paid family leave, the promotion of breastfeeding as imperative is a message new mothers receive from almost everyone today, including medical professionals — a puzzling phenomenon in light of contradictory studies on the benefits of breastfeeding. Even women who adopt their babies experience pressure to breastfeed. Women experience judgment and shame if they are not in a position or choose not to breastfeed, which can lead to negative mental health outcomes.

Why now: Refocusing on the needs of girls and women

Although men have increased their participation in household activities in the past few generations, the second shift still falls primarily on women. Furthermore, expectations related to second-shift activities have continued to rise in what Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels call the “Martha Stewartization of America,” where women are judged on their parenting and the appearance of their homes under these elevated standards while men are not. In fact, men are often glorified for participating in basic parenting activities, which Anne-Marie Slaughter called the “halo dad syndrome.”

Intersectional identities add new layers to these challenges. For example, girls and women who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ communities are vulnerable to increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicide as a result of discrimination. Although the need for mental health services is high, members of these communities often experience a disproportionate lack of access to these resources.

According to the cultural narrative, women are expected to navigate discrimination, harassment, rising work hours, increased motherhood expectations, heightened second-shift cultural standards and current unattainable beauty ideals without ever asking for help. Many women blame themselves when they believe they are failing to meet societal standards, but in reality, the cultural system is failing them.

Similarly, girls and women encounter sexism, bullying, sexual harassment and toxic body image messages. They are encouraged to take advantage of all opportunities and to strive to be perfect at everything. Thus, they are socialized to reach for impossible standards of success. Social media often intensifies these messages.

Yet benefits of social media exist as well. Some girls and women have found supportive communities through social media, which have provided them new channels toward justice and change. Since its inception in 2006 by Tarana Burke, the #MeToo movement has promoted empowerment and support for girls and women who have experienced sexual violence. The social media hashtag has evolved into real-world measures of accountability for aggressors, notably in the entertainment industry. Use of social media for revealing information on sexual abuse does, however, have repercussions. Girls and women have cited instances of harassment, stalking and bullying on the web after posting the hashtag, leading to increased isolation, grief and retraumatization.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the challenges girls and women encounter. Gender inequities in the United States are further exposed during the crisis. For example, mothers experience a higher burden in managing family life during the pandemic. In the early days of the pandemic, most working mothers lost their access to child care and other support systems. Even two years into the pandemic, isolation and quarantine mandates continue to disrupt the availability of child care on a regular basis, including the child supervision provided by schools.

The pandemic-related challenges have lingered far longer than expected, often resulting in significant mental, physical and emotional fatigue. Not surprisingly, the pandemic negatively affected women’s workforce participation. In 2019, women accounted for approximately 50% of the U.S. labor force; by the end of 2020, there were 2.1 million fewer women working.

As women were leaving the workforce at alarming rates, men’s workforce participation increased. Systemic racism exacerbated these gender inequities. African American women experienced an unemployment rate of approximately 41%, and Latinx women experienced an unemployment rate of over 38%. While the economy improved in 2021, less than 50% of these women returned to the workforce. For many workers who remained employed, on-the-job hours increased as staffing shortages grew.

Culturally responsive counseling with girls and women

Although it is important to understand the various challenges that girls and women may experience, it is also critical to avoid assumptions and stereotypes related to gender when counseling girls and women.

Identifying as a girl or woman is just one aspect of an individual’s multifaceted identity. The combination of various intersectional identities coupled with one’s environment ensures that individuals have vastly different life experiences. Furthermore, one’s identities may result in more collective privileges, compounded marginalization or a mix of both.

Therefore, it is important to understand not only a client’s gender identity but also their other social and ethnic group identities and how these various identities intersect and influence aspects of a client’s life. It would be unjust to assume that a white, upper-class, heterosexual, cisgender woman has had the same lived experiences as a Latinx, working-class, pansexual, transgender woman. As counselors, we need to be mindful of and provide an accepting space for women to explore the development of their multiple identities in counseling.

When working with girls and women, counselors need to consider several salient concerns regarding career interests, such as career choice alignment with familial and cultural expectations, traditional versus nontraditional career choice, as well as navigating harassment, bias, the glass ceiling and the gender pay gap. Tread carefully in this work, and remember that people put limits on themselves in the career domain based on their self-concept and their belief that they are a fit for or could do a particular job.

Girls and women are likely to engage in circumscription, eliminating careers that appear too masculine in the eyes of society or seem unsuitable or out of reach of their capabilities. Or girls and women compromise, selecting or short-listing careers that they see women within their social environment pursuing. Counselors must strive to monitor girls’ and women’s reactions and responses to and support of career-related endeavors, recognizing that they may be trimming their options based on the counselor’s response.

It is important to use gender-neutral language and present a wide array of potential options when introducing and exploring jobs/careers. Being a girl or a woman can come with a multitude of career expectations, relationships and society. Counselors provide women with an environment to process their numerous roles, determine if role strain or role conflict exists, and work together to navigate role-related issues based on the client’s authentic choices.

Counselors must consider how to be more gender aware, attuned and affirming in their approaches and interventions. Many postmodern approaches and theories lend themselves to this aim. The following are a few to consider alongside your current approaches. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive; a search of multicultural and social justice-oriented theories will provide a more extensive list.

  • Multicultural counseling and therapy acknowledges all individuals as cultural beings and, as such, their various cultural identities, values and biases are an important part of the counseling process.
  • The Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies provide additional support for working with a diverse clientele.
  • Feminist therapy allows counselors to view clients and their concerns through a lens that incorporates concepts of gender, power, privilege and oppression.
  • Relational-cultural theory focuses on finding identity through relationships and culture as a powerful influence on these relationships.

By shifting their approach, counselors create culturally responsive ways to meet the growing needs of girls and women.

Advocacy interventions with girls and women

In addition to counseling individuals and groups, advocating for clients is a vital and necessary part of our practice. Advocacy can occur on multiple levels, ranging from micro to macro. A counselor can engage on behalf of the client or with the client/group, with an overall goal of empowerment and eliminating individual and systemic barriers and oppression.

At the individual level (microlevel advocacy), the focus is on empowerment interventions with or on behalf of individual clients. Advocacy might include activities such as negotiating inequitable child care and second-shift expectations in a relationship. Counselors can navigate these actions using theoretical approaches and interventions that allow for identity development, are strength-based and are focused on empowerment.

Counselors may observe girls and women struggling with similar issues. Although counselors will likely work on individual empowerment, larger scale intervention may be needed to address more pervasive systemic issues. In this midlevel advocacy, counselors would advocate for community change with and on behalf of girls and women. Examples of community-level advocacy include advocating in schools against unfair dress code policies that marginalize girls, advocating at the local school board for curriculum to support girls and young women in mathematics and science, and advocating to local employers to support women’s needs from health care to child care in the workforce.

Although not all counselors feel comfortable or ready to advocate on a systems level, they are strongly encouraged to note their clients’ needs and get involved. Even a small advocacy endeavor has a ripple effect.

It is therefore important to know and understand the issues facing girls and women, not only in your community but also at the state, national and international level. We can all advocate for just social policies and strive to dismantle systemic inequities experienced by girls and women, such as lack of affordable access to quality health care and child care, the minimal amount of paid family leave and support for working mothers, pay inequities and work/career barriers.

For more help with advocacy initiatives, consult the ACA Advocacy Competencies for guidance.

 

****

 

Find out more about ACA’s Gender Equity Task Force at acagenderequity.weebly.com

 

****

Tracy Peed is a licensed professional school counselor in Illinois and Minnesota, an assistant professor and doctoral coordinator in the Department of Counseling and Student Personnel at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a member of the ACA Gender Equity Task Force. Contact her at tracy.peed@mnsu.edu.

Crissa Allen is a doctoral student at East Carolina University and a licensed clinical addictions specialist associate. Contact her at allenc13@students.ecu.edu.

Mary A. Hermann is a licensed professional counselor, a certified school counselor, an associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education, and affiliate faculty in the Institute of Women’s Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is the co-chair of the ACA Gender Equity Task Force and founder and director of the Women’s Lifespan Development Research Lab. Contact her at mahermann@vcu.edu.

Richelle Joe is an associate professor in the Department of Counselor Education and School Psychology at the University of Central Florida. Contact her at jacqueline.joe@ucf.edu.

Anna M. Viviani is an associate professor at Indiana State University, a licensed professional counselor in Indiana and Illinois, an approved clinical supervisor and a member of the ACA Gender Equity Taskforce. Contact her at Anna.Viviani@indstate.edu.

****

Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.