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CBT for Healthcare Workers: Coping with Job Related Stress

Working in the medical industry can be tough, even more so as a frontline healthcare worker.
Some days are good, or even great, as you watch patients improve and get discharged. Other
days, you’ll have patients that don’t want to follow their care plan, you may lose a longtime
patient, you may be so busy you don’t even have time to use the restroom or eat a snack during
a 12-hour shift. Stress management as a nurse, doctor or other healthcare professional can be
tricky. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic and it can be completely unmanageable.

According to the American Psychological Association, more healthcare workers than ever before are facing stress management issues, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, depression and addiction. That’s why it’s more important than ever for healthcare workers during the pandemic to seek out help from qualified mental health professionals to get support to learn new skills to cope with the effects of their jobs.

What is CBT?

CBT, short for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is based on the belief that the patient’s own thoughts and behaviors can lead to, or worsen symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety,
addiction, or other mental health concerns. Therapists using this method are able to teach their patients how to cope with these thoughts and actions, giving them the tools they need to be
successful in reclaiming their lives for themselves and their families.

Consider a patient who is dealing with stress management issues. They’re juggling work
responsibilities, a family, childcare and education, taking care of their home, and it’s causing
undue stress, sleepless nights, anxiety, depression, and addiction. A therapist using CBT will work to help the patient understand how to process the mounting daily demands of work and
family life.

CBT Benefits for Healthcare Workers

CBT is a structured therapy method that can have benefits for people from every profession. For healthcare workers, in particular, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has shown promising results in alleviating stress and depression levels.

Most of the time CBT programs are shorter than traditional therapy methods. This means healthcare workers can learn new skills for coping with the stress of their days in a condensed
timeframe, with less time trying to schedule appointments around their already busy schedule.

In addition, healthcare workers are often times dealing with difficult situations that could cause
stress, anxiety, PTSD, and depression, and contribute to addictions, on an on-going basis. By
working to change how you perceive certain events, CBT can help you cope with not only past
events that have happened but give you the tools to cope with future situations as well.

Finally, CBT is considered an evidence-based practice. Various studies have shown the positive
effect in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has had on patients, helping to decrease the instances of
anxiety, stress, or depression, and helping to increase their coping skills.

Mindfulness and CBT

Learning to practice mindfulness, or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), in
conjunction with CBT can help decrease the chance of a downward spiral when presented with
a single trigger, such as a low mood. In therapy, a patient would work on mindfulness
meditation techniques to help interrupt any chains of thoughts that would normally trigger
anxiety attacks, depression, and more. This is one more way CBT and therapy can help healthcare workers with their mental health and/or addictions.

Next Steps

While it can be difficult to acknowledge the need for help, or to take the first steps to find a
therapist and make an appointment, an educated “outsider’s” viewpoint can help you gain
some perspective. Here are a few more things you should know:

As a healthcare professional, it can be hard to get away during working hours for even a lunch
break. Trying to get away for two-hours mid-week to talk to a therapist is even more difficult. If
you can’t make it to an in-person appointment, or are perhaps uncomfortable due to the pandemic, consider utilizing tele-medicine appointments, like those offered with our clinic.

If you’re ready to take the next steps, explore why you’re feeling anxious, depressed, stressed,
or are struggling with addiction, consider working with Core Recovery. Our office has therapists
ready to help you learn how to cope with the challenges you’re facing. Reach out to us at (602)
610-3728 or take the first step for CBT online.

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