Burnout: Soul Loss & Soul Recovery

I will be giving a keynote presentation at the 13th annual Giving Voice to Experience conference, whose theme is “Maintaining a Soulful Approach to Psychological Research and Practice: Swimming Upstream in a Technological Society.”

13th Annual Giving Voice to Experience Conference

“Maintaining a Soulful Approach to Psychological Research and Practice: Swimming Upstream in a Technological Society”

June 25, 2022, 8:30 am – 5:30pm, Seattle University 

Oberto Commons – Sinegal 200

My talk on “Burnout: Soul Loss & Soul Recovery” seems even more relevant now than it did when the conference was originally planned for March of 2020 – at that time the pandemic was just evolving and we didn’t know one day to the next whether we would be gathering or not. I was already, at that time, beginning to look at the similarities between burnout in health care and the ancient concept of soul loss. After all, what is it that stops burning in burnout? What is it that we lose when we feel we are just pushing ourselves through the motions at work? Where have our hearts gone? Where have our souls gone? Now, after two years of pandemic life and social distancing, as well as the larger social injustice issues and division in the USA and war and conflict in the world, it seems even more vital than ever that we re-connect to that which makes us fully human.

For a number of years, Seattle University used to host the Search for Meaning Book Fesitval that I attended regularly. It saddens me that SU is no longer running that program since 2017, but I am honored to speak there and be part of the tradition of inquiry into life’s meaning and greater purpose. Here is the abstract for the talk:

Keynote Information 

“Burnout: Soul Loss & Soul Recovery in Mental Health Care”

presented by David R. Kopacz, MD

Burnout and compassion fatigue are becoming the norm in healthcare after two years of a pandemic. The World Health Organization recognizes burnout as an “occupational phenomenon,” with feelings of energy depletion; increased mental distance from one’s job, negativism, and cynicism; and reduced professional efficacy. While many perspectives on burnout focus on prevention through stress management techniques, we can look at burnout as “soul loss” which can then become the beginning of a transformational healer’s journey. A transformational perspective shifts our focus to the care of the soul and on how to recover soul once it is lost – this is a valuable skill for us as healers to use in our own lives as well as in our therapeutic work with clients.

David Kopacz is a psychiatrist in Primary Care Mental Health at Seattle VA and a National Education Champion with the VA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation. He is an Assistant Professor at University of Washington and is certified through the American Boards of: Psychiatry & Neurology; Integrative & Holistic Medicine; and Integrative Medicine. David is a graduate of University of Illinois, undergraduate in Urbana-Champaign and medical school and psychiatric residency in Chicago. He has practiced in the US and New Zealand. His publications include: Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine; Caring for Self & Others: Transforming Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and Soul Loss (in press); and with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD; Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality; Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children Ages 10-100.

Here is the link to the conference for registration and a flier for the conference. 6 CEUs are available for the one day conference. For further information about the conference, please contact Professor Steen Halling: shalling@seattleu.edu

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