Zone of Fabulousness Workbook: Resisting Burnout & Shouldering Each Other Up


Zone of Fabulousness Workbook: Resisting Burnout & Shouldering Each Other Up

7 months ago 7 months ago Published by
This toolkit was developed by Vikki Reynolds.


I describe an alternative approach to understanding the ways workers are harmed in the work that is very different from the concepts of vicarious trauma or burnout. Instead of looking at workers’ traumatic symptoms, this approach looks at how workers treat people often referred to as clients, and whether they are able to create relationships of respect and dignity. Are workers responding to the heartbreaking work with disconnection, where they are moving too far away from their clients and taken with negativity and cynicism? Or are they moving in too close, with heroic posturing, becoming enmeshed and transgressing the boundaries of clients through transgressions of intimacy and enmeshment? I believe that if we are able to hold people at the center of our work and care, stay with connection, and resist disconnection and enmeshment, we are more able to resist burnout and create sustainability. The Zone of Fabulousness is the space wherein people referred to as clients are at the center of the work, and workers are connected to each other through collective ethics, shouldering each other up, bringing believed-in-hope, and engaging in collective care that is in addition to self-care in collaborative, creative, messy, and imperfect ways.

Resisting burnout with justice-doing reflects an activist position for staying alive in our work. Vicarious trauma can focus on ways our clients’ pain infect us with hopelessness, yet often our clients inform, transform, educate, provoke, and educate us. The harms in our work most often stem from structures that are oppressive and don’t allow for the resources needed to respond to human suffering. When we are able to enact our ethics, even when it is heartbreaking, sustainability becomes possible. However, working against our ethics leads to spiritual pain or ethical pain, which is a better way to understand the harms workers experience. If we can enact collective care, as opposed to only self-care, sustainability becomes possible, and we can act in solidarity to shoulder each other up as workers in the dark spaces of our work.

For additional resources, visit Vikki’s website.

Reynolds, V., Fox, L., & Gammon, C. (2019). Zone of Fabulousness Workbook: Resisting Burnout & Shouldering Each Other Up.

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