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Research Companion to Organizational Health Psychology

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

This timely Research Companion is essential reading to advance the understanding of healthy behaviours within working environments and to identify problems which can be the cause of illness. Containing both theoretical and empirical contributions written by distinguished academics working in Europe, North America and Australia, the book covers leading edge topics ranging from current theories of stress, stress management, and stress in specific occupational groups, such as doctors and teachers, to the relationship of stress with well-being. It provides systematic approaches towards practical actions and stress interventions in working environments and a solid theoretical framework for future research. It will be an essential companion to research on psychology and medicine as well as stress.
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Chapter 40: Rediscovering Meaning and Purpose at Work: The Transpersonal Psychology Background of a Burnout Prevention Programme

Dirk Van Dierendonck, Bert Garssen and Adriaan Visser


Dirk van Dierendonck, Bert Garssen and Adriaan Visser ‘Our need to believe that the things we do are meaningful is our way of dealing with the fear caused by facing up to our mortality. To avoid and deny death we need to feel heroic, to know that our lives are meaningful, that we matter in the large “cosmic” scheme of things’ (Bekker, 1973). As work becomes more dynamic and decentralized, organizations frequently change their structure, and the only constant factor seems to be change itself, with the consequence that employees become more and more physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. There is an increasing recognition of the organizational costs and the negative consequences for the employees and the organizations of stressful workplaces (Paoli, 1997). Consequences include high turnover, absenteeism and poor performance, both in terms of productivity and in the quality of work. It is, therefore, not surprising that a number of intervention and prevention programmes have been developed. Until now, most stress management and burnout prevention programmes have been limited to a cognitive–behavioural focus, aiming at cognitive restructuring, didactic stress management and relaxation (Pines and Aronson, 1988). Burnout is generally viewed as a long-term stress reaction specific to those individuals who have been working under unrelieved stressful conditions for too long. The term ‘burnout’is a metaphor that refers to the draining of energy; that is, more energy is lost than replenished, comparable to a car battery, which will run empty if not enough energy is generated from the...

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