Die persepsies en belewenis van uitbranding by nagraadse teologiese studente van die Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid–Afrika : 'n pastorale studie
Niemann, Gerhardus Johannes
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The aim of this study was to establish to what extent the post graduate theological students of the RCSA experience emotional burnout and what their perceptions of burnout are. A combination of quantitative and qualitative empirical research was conducted to establish the levels of burnout and co–responding perceptions of the phenomenon. The study found that 75% of the post graduate students had experienced burnout to some extent. Out of these 75% participants, 35% experienced acute burnout, and a further 15% could be classified as being in the breakdown phase of burnout. The study indicated that the post graduate students of the RCSA generally had a positive perception towards burnout in the sense that they had a fair understanding of the causes of the phenomenon. The research has also shown that the post graduate theological students identified a balanced lifestyle as the most important preventative measure to combat burnout. To attain such a lifestyle, post graduate theological students need to attend to their spiritual, emotional, social and physical needs in a balanced way. Despite the fact that the majority of the participating students have a positive perception regarding the treatment and prevention of burnout, it is however clear that they do not address the problem effectively. It became clear from the research that additional guidance in the prevention, management and treatment of burnout is required. Various factors were identified that may contribute to the post graduate theological students' experiencing of burnout. These factors include the following: the effective management of the academic work load, their experiencing of overload and a lack of control over the amount of academic work, perceptions that they are not rewarded sufficiently for their contributions, that they feel excluded from experiencing a sense of belonging to a common group and having communion as a group, a lack of work satisfaction, a lack of effective interpersonal relationships, personal problems in their private lives, the degree of Type A–behaviour amongst some participants, a lack of emotional development and growth and a need for interpersonal skills training in their curriculum for them as future ministers, a lack of maintaining healthy emotional boundaries, structuring and ordering of the post graduate theological students-' own spiritual life, a lack of fulfilment of goals and their inability to keep up with the accelerating tempo of socio–domextic change in society. Other contributing factors to burnout amongst post graduate theological students are that they have certain misperceptions about burnout with regard to their calling as a minister. These misperceptions include the following: false feelings of guilt, complying with unrealistic high moral standards as person, that burnout is seen as a sign of 'weakness' and 'sin' and that treatment is only intended for 'sick people'. It has been established that burnout has definite negative consequences in the lives of the post graduate theological students. These consequences affect students' entire lives on physical, spiritual and emotional levels. The following consequences of burnout were identified: depressive disorders, loss of vision, bitterness, psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches, stomach ulcers, muscle spasms, etc. and their experience of burnout as generally being traumatic. Exegesis on 1 Kings 19:1–18 was normatively applied as a guide to address burnout to the post graduate theological students' experience of the phenomenon. Elijah's experience of burnout and how God led him to healing and also looked after his physical, spiritual and emotional needs was evaluated and guidelines were identified and formulated that could serve as an effective means of addressing burnout. Because burnout influences the post graduate theological students on a physical, spiritual and emotional level, the management and treatment thereof should also consist of the addressing of all three these elements in a balanced way. Pastoral guidelines were thus formulated to address these three elements of burnout - physical, spiritual and emotional in an effective manner.
- Theology