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Important New NIH Study Starting Up on Countering Burnout at Work

21 Jul

Hello again.

I just read about a new, NIH-funded study that begins this month, right here in Northeast Ohio, by a terrific agency called FrontLine, which serves the deinstitutionalized mentally ill, homeless, traumatized and suicidal people of Cleveland and surroundings. They do very hard work and they do it really well.  

The study investigates the effectiveness of guided imagery, listened to for 10 minutes, 3 times a week, for 4 weeks, during part of lunch hour, for reducing anxiety, stress, burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma in 126 staff people; and to see if they continue to listen to it after the study is over.  

The full description is here:  We’re going to follow this study with great interest to see how it goes.  My biggest worry is that these service staff, the minute they feel crunched (which is all the time), will just work through their lunch hour without taking the 10 minutes to listen.

They may find they need to build in some incentives to ensure people stick with the program.  We’ll see, and we’ll keep you informed.  If this works out, this simple tool could be a great boon to a lot of agencies and work places.     

And to this point, using guided imagery at work got a terrific shout-out on the blog of a registered dietitian and wellness coach named Chere Bork, who charmingly describes herself in this way:  I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to talk. I love to watch you eat the food that I cooked while I talk to you.

Chere posted something from an oncology nurse who was first introduced to guided imagery years ago by one of the pharmaceutical companies who gave out free Health Journeys chemo and radiation CDs to patients undergoing treatment in hospitals.

(Those were the days when pharmas were still allowed to dispense free goodies known as ‘premiums’, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of patients and their health care providers got introduced to guided imagery for the first time, and have used it ever since.  It was a terrific outreach and public education opportunity for us, and I was sad to see the rules change on that, although I certainly understand the potential conflict-of-interest issues and why they had to.)

In the post, Terry, the oncology nurse, talks about how, by taking a few minutes to care for herself by listening to some stress-clearing guided imagery, she actually wound up giving herself better quality time to do more during the rest of her day, because she was able to function more efficiently and speedily, absent the interference from all the stress and mind-clutter.  

Again, I love that point, because so many people mistakenly feel they can’t take the time to listen to something calming and relaxing.  And actually, that stressed out alarm state, by definition, has built into it the cognitive distortion that tells us we can’t stop for a minute… that it’s dangerous to slow down, must keep going!!  So sometimes it’s an act of sheer will to make yourself slow down and press ‘Play’.

We've posted Terry’s complete thoughts in this week’s Inspiring Story if you want to see what she had to say about this.  And that’s precisely why we’re so happy FrontLine is doing that study.  Stay tuned.

(p.s. Cindy says this is possibly the most creative spelling of my name she’s ever seen, in 20 years of creative spelling!)

Take care and be well.

All best,


Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award