Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Michael R. Nash

Committee Members

Jacob Levy, John W. Lounsbury

Abstract

Therapist burnout has been linked to poorer therapy outcome, and may be related to leaving the profession. However, a number of questions remain about the nature of burnout among psychotherapists, and why it occurs. Interpersonal difficulties in the workplace have been examined as correlates of burnout, but thus far there is little attention to the role of non-professional interpersonal problems in general as they relate to burnout. The practice of psychology requires the therapist to engage with patients under duress. The therapist’s ability to remain poised under-fire is critical. This puts a premium on stamina, emotional balance, and a reasonably stable personal life. It follows that periods of instability, emotional conflict, and interpersonal strife in the therapist’s life might lead to burnout. I test this notion by surveying therapists using the Counselor Burnout Inventory, the 64-item version of the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems, and demographic variables. It was found that interpersonal problems were significantly correlated with burnout, as were age and experience, work setting, and treating greater or fewer clients than one’s ideal. Other variables, such as race, gender, and therapist’s own therapy experience were not related to burnout.

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