Work and Family Balancing

Work and family conflict stems from combining multiple responsibilities and roles, such as parent, partner, individual and employee. While some distress navigating multiple roles is natural, those experiencing prolonged or persistent distress is that interferes with functioning may benefit from treatment.

Work and family conflict is not generally labeled as a specific disorder, probably because it manifests so differently across individuals depending on their circumstances and resources. For example, some women experience distress while attempting to set clear boundaries between their work and their family roles, feeling somehow inadequate and shortchanged in both arenas. Others may struggle emotionally in their roles as spouse or mother, unsure of their own identity outside of a caretaking role. And still others may feel preoccupied with work or financial concerns that impact their family choices.

No matter how work and family conflict manifests, women in significant conflict are likely to experience some symptoms of either depression or anxiety, such as low or anxious mood, difficulty making decisions, sleep disturbances, poor concentration, procrastination, restlessness, and irritability.

Effective treatment focuses on symptoms of anxiety and depression, and helps her optimize her experience in her work and family situation. Coping and assertiveness skills training are usually beneficial. Focused, shorter-term therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy may be successful treatment approaches for this type of conflict while longer-term dynamic treatments may help to address underlying issues that lead to assumptions about one’s role efficacy and status.

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