Gabrielle Juliano-Villani: “Prevention”

Prevention- there is so much we can do to prevent burnout and it’s much harder to climb out of the hole once you are down there! Focus on the moments that bring you the greatest joy and see how you can recreate those feelings throughout the day. I find once I am already to the […]

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Prevention- there is so much we can do to prevent burnout and it’s much harder to climb out of the hole once you are down there! Focus on the moments that bring you the greatest joy and see how you can recreate those feelings throughout the day. I find once I am already to the point of burnout, it’s all I can think about it. I try to shift my focus to the things I am grateful for , to attempt to lessen the feelings of “blah”. Those feelings are valid too, but your brain will go to old comfortable thought patterns, and our brains have a negative bias anyway, so focusing on the good feelings can make a huge impact on our day to day work life.


Millions of Americans are returning back to work after being home during the pandemic. While this has been exciting for many, some are feeling burned out by their work. What do you do if you are feeling burned out by your work? How do you reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back”? What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?

In this interview series called “Beating Burnout: 5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout,” we are talking to successful business leaders, HR leaders and mental health leaders who can share insights from their experience about how we can “Beat Burnout.”.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gabrielle Juliano-Villani.

Gabrielle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, owner, and founder of Colorado In-Home Counseling, a thriving group practice, serving adults of all ages who struggle with anxiety, depression, grief/loss, chronic health conditions, trauma, life transitions, and stress management. Gabrielle has 15 years of experience working in the field of mental health, helping clients find better work/life balance, and creating space for clients to reach their highest potential. Gabrielle is passionate about bridging gaps and making mental health accessible to everyone.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thanks for having me! I’m originally from New Jersey but spent most of my life in Colorado, until I moved to Sarasota, FL last year. I’m an only child but have a pretty big Italian-American family back in Jersey. I was a shy, introverted kid and I loved to read. My fondest memories of childhood are being on the Jersey Shore and doing ballet and dancing in The Nutcracker! My mom raised me pretty much on her own, my dad struggled with addictions and passed last year from COVID. I ended up in FL to be closer to my mom and step-dad, plus I love the beach!

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I was first inspired by my Grandmother. She was a council woman at large in Newark, NJ and cared deeply about underserved populations. She was very involved in the community and volunteered with many organizations, including women who were homeless and survivors of intimate partner violence. Women’s rights were extremely important to her and it was inspiring to me as a kid to see her passion for helping people. I certainly think that’s where my social work roots were planted! It was incredible to see the connections she made with the people of Newark and the ripple effect this had on politics and the well-being of the people who lived there

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Two people- my mom and my friend Sam. Sam was my mentor when I first launched my private practice and I had no clue what I was doing. She gave me many, many hours of her time to help me understand the business side of things (spoiler alert: they don’t you teach you about that stuff in the social work grad program!), how to bill insurance, and even coached me through calling back my very first client! I am so grateful to her, and with her help I have been able to grow my practice to 15 therapists. Of course, my mom is always my biggest cheerleader and supporter, and has always encouraged me to listen to my gut.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Ha- I have made so many ! Just being honest but that’s the best way to learn. A lot of the mistakes I have made are related to billing insurance and not that interesting!! But a good learning experience to always double check things so I don’t lose money. Also, as a young therapist, I was always afraid to say the wrong thing

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

It’s cheesy but “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”. I heard that in one of the first yoga classes I ever took, almost 20 years ago! It resonates with me because it inspires me to change and move forward. Nothing grows from stagnation. I wouldn’t be where I am at today if I hadn’t gotten uncomfortable and taken risks.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I have a few- I am working on an online course to help therapists work with folks who suffer from chronic health conditions. This an underserved and misunderstood population and I find from other professionals there is a lack of knowledge in this area. I also am a contributor to the Goodheart Collaborative, an app focused on burnout prevention for helping professionals. I love the content we are putting out on that app — tons of tools to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue. I also do in-service trainings for all sort of agencies and companies on burnout prevention. And finally, I love to make fun mental health related tik toks !

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Tenacity, bravery, and compassion. Like I said, no one in grad school talked about starting a business and not many social workers, that I knew in my community anyway, were entrepreneurs. So many friends were uncomfortable when I told them I was venturing out on my own, I heard lots of “but how will you make money?!” and very few “wow I am so proud of you!”. So not having a lot of social support scared me. Not knowing when my next client would call scared me. But I took those moments of fear and used them to fuel my success by pushing through. It took a lot of bravery to jump into the unknown and learn an entire different side of this industry. Compassion has what led me to this path and also healed me from my own burnout (and helped prevent future burnout). Compassion for my clients allows me to show up for them, and provide services for some of the most underserved populations. Compassion for my self when I feel like I can’t do this anymore and I want to quit. I allow myself to feel those feelings, understand them, and move on!

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of burnout?

Burnout is very high in the fields I have worked in — not just social work but more specifically therapy and I also worked in child protective services in the past. I have seen burnout from both a peer and organizational level. I’ve not only recovered from burnout myself (a few times) but also work with clients in the therapy setting on identifying and working through their own burnout.

Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about beating burnout. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Burnout”? Can you explain?

Burnout is the emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. I think of burnout as “depression” or not enough. Burnout is feeling detached and apathetic

How would you define or describe the opposite of burnout?

The opposite of burnout would be anxiety or “too much”- being hyperactive, anxious, stressed, or having a sense of urgency

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Some sceptics may argue that burnout is a minor annoyance and we should just “soldier on’’ and “grin and bear it.” Can you please share a few reasons why burnout can have long-term impacts on our individual health, as well as the health and productivity of our society?

Telling someone to “grin and bear it” invalidates that person’s experiences and feelings. How we feel is always valid (how we react may not be) and this type of thinking continues the cycle of people feeling as if they aren’t being heard and thus leading to burnout. This is partly why we are seeing so many people quitting and moving on to employers (or becoming self-employed) where they feel valued. This impacts our society, as we can see there is a huge staffing shortage. People are tired of being pushed to their edge and only prioritizing work.

From a health standpoint, our mind and body are connected. Our nervous system helps regulate our emotions. When our body is under stress or pushed into the fight/flight/freeze zones , this impacts our physical health. Cortisol is dumped into the blood stream, our blood pressure may rise, and the immune response can lessen. Over time, these external stressors cause stress and inflammation inside our body as well which can lead to chronic health conditions. Chronic health conditions are not curable, are the number one reason for disability, are costly (money and resources), and are often preventable.

From your experience, perspective, or research, what are the main causes of burnout?

There’s a few I see over and over again. Personality types are a big one, folks who are Type A tend to push themselves too much and people who have a negative bias are more prone to burnout. Unclear expectations is another example. This happens when a manager/employer and employee have different understandings of what is expected, and that may not be communicated clearly to the other party, leaving the first person stressed and feeling like they aren’t doing quality work. Multi-tasking is another one, being pulled in too many directions doesn’t allow you to produce quality work where you don’t feel stretched too thin. Finally, not knowing or holding to one’s boundaries. Saying “yes” when you should have said “no” will leave you exhausted and resentful.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. What can an individual do if they are feeling burned out by work? How does one reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back?” Can you please share your “5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout?”. (Please share a story or an example for each.)

Get into a routine- especially an after work routine. Brains love structure and it’s important to have an end of day transition. Do something every day to signal your brain that you are transitioning from work to home. I sometimes imagine filling up a bowl with all the “stuff” from the day (you can also use an actual bowl!) and at the end of the day I pour it all out. I have also worked with clients in healthcare who only have certain shoes they wear to work, and they leave those shoes outside when they get home.

Know your boundaries- this is so important! Understand what you can do without stretching yourself too thin. Chances are, if you’re already burnout , you haven’t been holding firm boundaries. Don’t answer those emails at 10pm if it’s outside of work hours- this will only signal to others that you’ll respond and it’s ok. You have to be the one to protect yourself.

Know your triggers or what activates you — ok we can’t always know what will set us off, but start noticing the next time you feel triggered at work- what was happening in those moments? Is there a pattern? Did this pattern lead you down the path of burnout? Once you have an idea of this, you can begin to understand how you function best at work, and how to manage those times of stress.

Practice mindfulness — mindfulness is being aware of the present moment without judgement. When we perseverate, worry, or have unhelpful thoughts, we can become stressed and stress less to burnout. If you’re already burnout, practice being in the here and now. Slow down and notice what’s happening around you. There’s a ton of different ways to do this. I like to press my feet into the ground and focus on the feeling of the floor holding me up, or doing 5–4–3–2–1(5 things you can see, 4 you can touch, 3 you can hear, 2 you smell, 1 you can taste). This also helps regulate our emotions.

Prevention- there is so much we can do to prevent burnout and it’s much harder to climb out of the hole once you are down there! Focus on the moments that bring you the greatest joy and see how you can recreate those feelings throughout the day. I find once I am already to the point of burnout, it’s all I can think about it. I try to shift my focus to the things I am grateful for , to attempt to lessen the feelings of “blah”. Those feelings are valid too, but your brain will go to old comfortable thought patterns, and our brains have a negative bias anyway, so focusing on the good feelings can make a huge impact on our day to day work life.

What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to help someone they care about reverse burnout?

Encourage them to seek help if you see any major red flags, like signs of a depressive episode (sleeping too much or not enough, appetite changes, mood changes, mentions of suicide). Listen to them, ask what they need, and take on some additional tasks at home/work if you can to help the person feel less overwhelmed.

What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?

Listen and validate. You don’t need to fix it or take it personally but you can provide a safe space for employees to be honest about what they feel. Take the time to notice if you think an employee may be struggling. Encourage them to ask for help when needed, use the EAP (if you have one), not reply to work emails after hours, and take their PTO.

These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?

I hope right now employers are looking around and truly seeing the impact the pandemic has had on burnout. We’re currently in a mental health crisis. Create policies that helps employees thrive and produce quality work while embracing their (and your!) values. For example, not having to be signed into Slack 24/7 responding to messages , having a “focus day” where the calendar is blocked off and no meetings are scheduled, having a policy about email communication (not responding to emails after works hours), and building team cohesiveness. And of course utilize someone like me to provide in-service trainings to your team about burnout prevention!

What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to reverse burnout in themselves or others? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?

This is tough to answer because it’s so personal but I think a “mistake” , or rather, an opportunity to grow, is to really do your own work and learn about YOU. What values are important to you, what boundaries you need to hold, what triggers you, etc. Your employer can’t control those things, but you can. And you can be responsible for understanding yourself and how you react to those external stressors. See a therapist, and if that’s not accessible, I would encourage you to slow down and ask yourself why you feel the way you do when something stressful happens.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

This is an intense question! And a tough one! The first thing that comes to mind is mental health. I want mental health services to be accessible to everyone. There’s many reasons why it’s not- lack of resources/therapists in certain areas, unaffordable to clients, insurance with high deductibles. So my hope is that someday mental health just becomes part of a physical and that everyone is able to get what they need, when they need it.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Cher! She has always been an inspiration to me — I grew up listening to her music with my mom and I always loved her style, especially the outfits designed by Bob Mackey. I would love to sit down and have lunch with her!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

On Instagram and Tik Tok @coinhomecounseling, facebook.com/coinhomecounseling , and coloradocounselinginhome.com

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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