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Burnout in Mental Health Professionals as Related to Self-Care

28 June 2010


Self care is frequently studied and described in modern psychology research and can be defined as any activity one engages in that fuels the body and mind and allows one to function more fully in daily life (Mahoney, 1997). Burnout is another frequently studied phenomenon, especially when considering those who work in mental health professions. It has been suggested that the benefits of self care may influence the prevention of burnout in mental health professionals but this has not been subjected to rigorous empirical evaluation (Carroll, Gilroy, & Murra, 1999; Norcross, 2000). Other research suggests that therapist age, satisfaction with income, client load, and practice setting may have an impact on both job satisfaction and burnout levels (Farber, 1990; Freudenberger, 1990; Bassett & Lloyd, 2001; Maslach, 1978a; Jayaratne, Vinokur-Kaplan, and Chess, 1995; Lloyd, McKenna, & King, 2004; Raquepaw & Miller, 1989). Multiple correlations as well as regression analyses were performed to test hypotheses regarding the relationship between self-care and burnout, and possible effects of years of experience, satisfaction with income, client load, and practice setting on practicing therapists. A significant negative correlation between burnout and self-care was found and burnout scores among practice setting fell in the expected order. Significant differences between self-care scores were found between those in a group setting versus private practice. Additionally, three variables (satisfaction with income, client load discrepancy, and self-care frequency) were determined to best predict burnout scores in this sample. Implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are also discussed.


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