Ask Tony: I’m burned out from work but I’m going nowhere.

Welcome to our brand new ASK TONY: The Countertalk Problem Page. Tony Carelli has recently come on board with Countertalk as an additional mental health expert to serve our community, joining stress councillor and therapist Merly Kammerling to expand the ways we can help you.


Tony is a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, with many years of experience working with complex mental health and emotional difficulties – and like Merly, he’s an ex-chef, so he knows the unique challenges that you face in our industry. Between Tony and Merly, we’ve got your problems covered – always in an understanding, confidential and non-judgemental setting.


I’m really struggling with work. I’m 42 and I feel burned out from managing restaurants, working for other people for not munch money. I’ve been trying to open my own cafe for over a year, but finding a property is hard and the longer it goes on the more I feel ready to give up.


The jobs I’ve taken to tide me over during this process have been part-time and minimum wage; I’ve tried switching careers within the food industry but at my age, no one wants to give me a new opportunity. I’m not sure I even want to go back to working for other people – my anxiety goes through the roof and my mental health suffers, due to bad experiences with bosses in the past.


I feel like I’m failing quite hard; my ambition is so much higher than what I seem able to achieve. How can I tune into a path that’s going to bring me to a happy place?



Thanks for giving me a bit of a window into what has sounded like quite a journey over recent times, and it would certainly make sense to me that it has left you with significant degrees of uncertainty. I guess my first question would be what it is you are wanting to achieve? The reason I ask is there appears to be. Few and breaking that down can help to feel less overwhelming so I will break it down as how I hear it.

  1. Do you want to stay in hospitality?

  2. What does your ‘happy place’ look like?

  3. When you are struggling with anxiety, what does ‘through the roof’ look like?

I would maybe start with asking yourself these questions so you can break down a little of what is happening for them to feel less ‘all at once’. You can then break it down even further by identifying your stressors, are there some things that are in your control and some that are out of your control for example? I believe once you’ve taken a step back and broken this down as I’ve indicated then it may help to guide the direction that you want to go in.


I think a useful tool that can help with this would be to get it down in front of you and start to ask the difficult questions:


Identify the Problem.

Break it down into smaller steps and decide what you need to action first.


Brainstorm and write down as many ideas as you can that might help solve the problem, no matter how silly they seem – don’t dismiss any possible solutions.


Consider the pros and cons of each possible solution, using a separate piece of paper.


Choose one of the possible solutions that looks likely to work, based on the advantages and disadvantages.


Plan out step-by-step what you need to do to carry out this solution. What? When? How? With whom or what? What could cause problems? How can you get around those problems? Is this realistic and achievable?


Do it! Carry out the plan.


Review how it went. Was it helpful? Did you achieve what you set out to achieve? If not, how could you have done it differently? Did you achieve any progress, however small, towards your goal? What have you learned?


If you achieved your goal – consider tackling the next step of your original problem.

If you didn’t fully achieve your goal – make adjustments to your chosen solution, or return to steps 3 and 4 and choose another possible solution. This should give you the tools you need to progress in a positive way where the solutions come from within.

Hi Counteralk community,


You know that we’ve got you, right? When you’re dealing with those big issues, you want someone who really gets it.


Merly is a therapist, stress reduction coach and founder of @me_myself_inmind, which provides workshops, one-to-one therapy and group therapy for you incredible, hard-working, hard-caring people in the hospitality industry. Their mission is built around educating others on stress reduction techniques, mental health awareness and the importance of learning coping skills, emotional resilience and self awareness.


Tony is a psychotherapist specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, offering short-term and long-term therapy to individuals with mild to complex difficulties. He has provided therapeutic support to adults for a wide range of psychological issues including anxiety, depression, OCD, Psychosis, PTSD and has specialised in eating disorders, self harm and substance misuse. He helps clients work through emotional issues, providing an environment where you can feel safe to express themselves without fear of being judged. He believes the process is about telling ‘your story’ and then working collaboratively towards changes that you would like to make in your life. You can find out more about his work here: https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellors/tony-carelli


Merly and Tony are both on hand to answer whatever you’ve got on your mind. If you would like to submit a problem, please email , either addressing the issue to the therapist you would like to speak to, or allowing them to decide which of them is most suited to respond. All questions are completely confidential and kept 100% anonymous, now and always.

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