Career Burnout: Is There Help?

Career Burnout: Is There Help?

Do you ever wonder if you might be suffering from burnout? Current statistics suggest that 35% of Canadians are burned out (Wilson, 2022). Some careers are even at greater risk: Nurses and other healthcare workers report a 66% rate of burnout, mental health professionals weigh in at 61%, transportation, finance and legal professionals are around 40%, and first responders and educators are not far behind (Wilson). If you are burned out, you are not alone.

Burnout has a number of signs and symptoms, which can include the following:

  • Feeling run down and drained of physical or emotional energy
  • Negative thoughts about your job or feeling disengaged from your work
  • Decreased patience, and increased irritability or frustration
  • Feeling misunderstood and unappreciated at work
  • Feeling unproductive, with a lot of pressure to perform
  • Not getting what you want from your work
  • Feeling like you might be in the wrong organization or wrong profession
  • Organizational politics or bureaucracy seem to interfere with doing a good job
  • Insomnia, weight gain or loss, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress
  • Cynicism and feeling overwhelmed with your workload
  • Physical illnesses and decreased immune functioning
  • Lacking time to do a good quality job or unable to plan your workload
  • Working more hours than humanly possible

There are five stages of burnout, ranging from no sign, mild, moderate, severe and very severe risk of burnout (Fontes, 2020). While the diagnosis of Occupational Burnout is not in the current DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association), it is being seriously considered as an addition to the 6th edition. Burnout became an officially recognized diagnosis by the World Health Association in 2018, and was originally recognized in the 1970s by American psychologist Dr. Herbert Freudenberger (Fontes). It is characterized by three broad categories: 1) physical and mental exhaustion; 2) increased disengagement from one’s job, and/or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s work; and 3) reduced productivity and professional efficacy.

Why is career counselling for burnout so important?

It is a slippery slope when going from stress in to burnout, and it generally takes people many years to develop occupational burnout. It is often the result of working too many hours, working in the wrong profession, or for an organization that doesn’t support their employees well. Burnout can have some significant physical, psychological and emotional consequences, which can negatively impact your quality of life and ability to function. It is important to be proactive about dealing with burnout, so you can get back on track with your life.

How many sessions does career counselling usually take?

Typically 3-4 hours and 4 tests work really well for most people. Some people may benefit from more sessions if they require further clarity with their career decisions, if they are looking at various educational routes, or need to overcome any obstacles standing in their way for their career success.

What about addressing burnout in counselling?

This is generally a good idea and beneficial for most people. For some people, making the necessary changes to their career can help alleviate burnout and give them hope for a more positive future. For other people, additional counselling sessions to address and overcome burnout are needed for their recovery. This would be determined in an individual basis.

How much does career counselling cost?

Testing is $100 each, and fees are $220 an hour. It is truly a great investment in your future and in your life.

What types of payment do you take? Are costs covered by insurance?

You may pay by cash, cheque, credit, debit, or e-transfer. A receipt is issued for reimbursement through your extended medical plan or health spending account or your partner’s plan. It is also a tax-deductible medical receipt on your income tax return.

What are the tests used for career counselling?

The four tests used are a career personality, career interests, career values, and career conflict scales. These assessments have high validity and reliability, and provide a wealth of information for the career counselling process. These tests are only available to professionals that are specifically trained and certified as career counsellors.

What does career counselling provide for you?

Career counselling opens up the world of work to possibilities that you’ve maybe never considered. Or it can validate and confirm why the career you are in is not right for you, and you can discover other options that are a better fit for your life and happiness. The knowledge you gain from career counselling can help you overcome any obstacles you may encounter as you pursue your dreams. Career counselling can help explain your situation, with solid rational why you are experiencing burnout, and what is going to fit better for you and your life. It can be truly a positive experience when you are going through such a negative time in your life.


American Psychiatric Association (2024).  Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5-TR)

Fontes, F. (2020). Herbert J. Freudenberger and the making of burnout as a psycholpathological syndrome.

Queensland Government (2021). Signs you might be experiencing a burnout and how to regain balance in your life.

The World Health Organization. (2019). Burnout-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases.

Wilson, J. (2022) Over 1 in 3 Canadians report burnout.

Susan MacDonald

Dr. Susan MacDonald Ph.D. Registered Psychologist

Calgary-based Dr. Susan MacDonald is a Registered Psychologist with 20 years of experience offering career and personal counselling services to both organizations and individuals.

Ready to Take the First Step?

Fees can be reimbursed by your extended medical plan or health spending account (and also through your partner’s plan).