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Assessing Job Satisfaction Within Psychotherapy

Shannon M. Duffy, MFT, LCPC

As a society, we spend a significant amount of our lives focused on our vocation(s). This past year has adjusted our perspective towards what our vocation or job or careers really mean to us. Many grieved the loss of their job and others reassessed the value their job even provides. The adjustments from office to work from home to return to the office has created a sense of uncertainty for many in what they want and need from their job. In the past few months, there has been a trend of many individuals who are choosing to leave their current jobs for something that aligns with their wants and needs or finding a whole new direction to pursue. This “Great Resignation” has provided many the time to evaluate their vocation in addition to one’s priorities overall. 

Group of young employees laughing at workDiscussing work stress is a common topic within the therapeutic setting. As I have been working with many of my clients on their feelings of their vocations, I have been utilizing a concept of “job crafting,” which was created by Psychologist, Amy Wrzesniewski. This concept entails looking at how you perceive your vocation as just a job, career, or a calling. This association can aid in overall job satisfaction. What I have found helpful for my clients is finding their own version of how to craft their job into aligning with their values, interests, and goals. Thinking about how, in small but meaningful ways you can change your current work to enhance how it can connect to your values. Job crafting is adding, delegating, and customizing what you do to match your interests and values. This process within therapy requires introspection towards deciphering the values that you truly encompass now in your life and what you are looking for within the outlook of your future. Here are a few of the most common values for the individual about what they need within their work environment; appreciation, trust, development, connection, respect, fairness, flexibility, and security. The focal point goes beyond creating a healthy work-life balance. Within therapy, we will question how to move forward with career aspirations to assess how each individual feels about the tasks associated with their job, growth, and overall comfort within the working environment.

It is also beneficial to compare the individual’s values with the values many employers would like from their employees. Most common are strong work ethic, dependability, professionalism, loyalty, and adaptability. This can provide a sense of compatibility that you feel with your vocation that can lead to job satisfaction. Start by paying attention to your emotions throughout your day associated with certain tasks and how you feel about them. Which tasks provide energy and which ones wear you down and impact moods. Acknowledge patterns and routines of the day including interactions or lack of interaction with coworkers. The concept of job crafting can be a valuable skill towards understanding not only if your job aligns with your values but also to obtain a sense of purpose and meaning behind what your vocation is for you. The question that many have been asking and in turn contemplating during this “great resignation” is what is my overall purpose? Many of us have a strong identity attached to our vocations and while others have the motivation to make the change for a new purpose, or struggle with if there is a purpose within their job. 

Having an overall purpose or calling may not be realistic for many in their vocations but there are still factors to incorporate so you can feel happy at your job. Job satisfaction may just be to feel comfortable or have the flexibility to work from home. Other questions to ask if you can set up learning and growth plans for job and what can be more challenging and interesting towards the job task? Not to say everyone needs to up and leave their jobs to stay on-trend, however, it is helpful to just reflect on a regular basis on how much value we do get from our vocation as it is something that is the main aspect of our lives. 

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