Mentally abusive job

Mentally abusive job


your avatar   Beans, 25-year-old woman

In five months I will be starting a one year program to become a registered nurse. I already have a bachelors degree in Communication, with a minor in Dance, and several fitness related certifications, such as a Pilates and Group Fitness. I currently work with people who have had traumatic brain injuries and teach fitness classes at night.

My current job can be mentally abusive and unsafe. I am working out of the consumers' homes and I often don't know what I'm walking into. For instance, I was working with someone that was abusing drugs and alcohol and would answer his door naked and drunk. Although I told my supervisors what was occurring, they ignored me and had me return. This same person even attempted a drug deal right in front of me and when I called the company for guidance, they asked me to call the police and wait for them to come. After that occasion I put my two weeks in and they begged me to stay, promising me that the situation would change, but as you can imagine, it hasn't.

They recently put me in the home of someone that has end stage Renal Disease and can often vomit and aspirate on the contents. I did not receive any training on how to feed him, which is medically crucial to his health, and when I tried to contact them, no one was available to help. In this case, as in most with this company, I initiated my own training, but have come to the conclusion that no one on this case has had adequate training.

I only have five months left, so sometimes I feel I should just tough it out, but I'm becoming increasingly unhappy. Is it really worth it for the next five months? I have conflicting emotions because I do not want to start with another company when I'm leaving so soon. It's not fair to them and I do not want to gain the reputation as being undependable. I can keep teaching the fitness classes, but with those I get paid for an hour at a time, which really isn't worth the running around or wear and tear on my car. Part of me feels that maybe I should just take a pay cut and go work at the local pet store or humane society because I really love animals. At least if it's a minimum wage position I won't feel as bad about leaving. What should I do?


    Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, LPC, LISAC, DCC

Hi Beans,

Boy does this bring me back - and not at all to a place I enjoyed at the time. I did most of my community health work in Arizona during the 1970's and 80's, but I am sure that if anything, it is worse now...and it was bad enough then. In general, community health care is the stepchild of the medical field and therefore, receives scant resources in terms of money, staff, and training. Because of this, both the clients and the therapists often put up with conditions that are inadequate at best and truly barbaric at their worst.

The problem of course is that governments and society in general have been in a cost crunch for decades and it is only going to get worse. That in no way excuses what is happening. Everyone in this system tends to get a bad deal. The staff are overworked and paid very little. They often work in squalid conditions and many of the positions can be unsafe. The clients are usually undeserved and are serviced by either incredibly humanitarian workers or people who feel defeated, buried in paperwork, or who are so beaten down that they no longer have the energy to care.

You ask what you should do, but I am sure that you are aware that no one can make this decision for you. I would suggest basing this decision on the facts. The conditions are not going to change in the immediate future, so you have to take the poor conditions and pay into account. Try and be very realistic about how dangerous this particular position is because certainly, the majority of them are not. Then, compare those things to how motivated you are to work in the field and the tremendous experience you are receiving by doing this work. It also might make sense to look at the other possible jobs in your field to see if a better one is available. Think also about the time commitment. Five months will seem like a long time, but it really isn't.

I hope that the poor conditions do not deter you from your ultimate goal of helping others. Although there were many parts of my years in that kind of work that were hard and frustrating, I look back on that time with gratitude. I was able to learn more than I would in any other setting and it paved the way for other jobs that were infinitely more rewarding.

Good luck.


This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit:

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