Overcoming Career-Related Psychological Strains

Different professions present different physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychological challenges. A new report from a group of researchers in Germany looked specifically at the challenges faced by classroom teachers. Among teachers, one of the top health concerns is mental health, specifically involving career-related psychological and social challenges. The German study involved developing a short manual and asking teachers participate in 90-minute sessions once a month for a year, using both the manual and group discussions. In the case of teachers, this particular program addressed five different areas. Firstly, the teacher’s sense of authenticity, or relationship with his or her self; because teaching is such a personal yet public profession, teachers often experience a sense of incongruence between who they are and the ‘role’ they must play when in charge of their students. Secondly, the training worked on helping teachers handle the relationships they built with their students in a psychologically healthy way; this involves balancing compassion with discipline and building resilience when students respond negatively or are difficult to reach.

Third was competence in handling relationships with parents, who vary from indifference on one end to involvement to the point of burden on the other. Fourth was strengthening collegiality and social support among the staff, most of whom take their jobs very seriously and may become competitive or defensive of their own methods rather than open to new approaches from coworkers with differing backgrounds. Fifth and finally, the teachers learned about how individuals experience stress, both physically and emotionally; they were trained in recognizing signs of stress in themselves and relaxation techniques designed to help mitigate stress.

At the end of the year, teachers who had participated in more than five of the sessions exhibited less depression and a greater sense of overall trust than those teachers who did not participate, or who only attended a few sessions. This is just one example of meeting the mental health needs of those practicing a specific profession. It is not uncommon for people in high-stress jobs of all varieties to seek and find a therapist to help them adjust to the levels of performance that are required of them.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Demi


    September 23rd, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    I get nervous and all worked up whenever I have to make a presentation at the office.I can only imagine what its like to be doing something like that all day everyday!

    A teacher’s job is a very tough one wherein he or she has to be very careful and prepared at all times.Add to that the fact that the internet now offers all the knowledge to any student from the comfort of their homes and we now have a situation wherein the teacher should be careful to remain accurate or some student might actually correct him!

  • donna


    September 23rd, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    People who say that teachers are overpaid for what they do are dead wrong. I have never seen another profession with so much responsibility in their hands and yet get so under compensated and certainly under appreciated. There are great teachers out there who never ask for anything in return other than trying to instill the love of learning in their students. That is what makes most really good teachers happy. And think of all of the bureaucratic red tape and hoops that they have to jump through in return. Add to that having to deal with difficult parents and in many cases unruly students and it makes you wonder sometimes how they juggle it all. But the good ones know how to do it and do it well and to them we all owe them a great big thank you.

  • Sandra


    September 24th, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    More school districts need to commit to providing their employees with these types of sessions that obviously lessened the stresses and gave them other outlets for venting their frustrations and for attacking those in a meaningful and healthy when those outlets were not available.

    All of our teachers are valuable resources and should be treated as such. There are some of them who have a lot more insight into the lives of our own children than we do at home. Give them the support that they need and I would almost guarantee that all of us would benefit.

  • calvin M

    calvin M

    September 24th, 2010 at 5:12 AM

    ask anybody why they think a person didn’t turn out too well and they would say its the parents’ mistake.ask them the next reason and chances are that they will say that the person probably didn’t have good teachers…that’s how important teachers are!they are not only important for academics but also in actually sculpting a person.

  • AD


    September 24th, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    Career problems are extremely frustrating because they not only affect us professionally but also personally. They take a toll on our relationships and do not let us concentrate on our work either. Therapists and counselor are present in schools and colleges but I guess they are needed in offices as well.

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