Practice Research and Policy Staff
American Psychological Association Practice Organization
Originally published January 25, 2018
Burnout commonly affects individuals involved in the direct care of others, including mental health practitioners. Burnout consists of three components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization of clients and feelings of ineffectiveness or lack of personal accomplishment (Maslach, Jackson & Lieter, 1997). Emotional exhaustion may include feeling overextended, being unable to feel compassion for clients and feeling unable to meet workplace demands. Depersonalization is the process by which providers distance themselves from clients to prevent emotional fatigue. Finally, feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of personal accomplishment occur when practitioners feel a negative sense of personal and/or career worth.
Studies estimate that anywhere between 21 percent and 61 percent of mental health practitioners experience signs of burnout (Morse et al., 2012). Burnout has been associated with workplace climate, caseload size and severity of client symptoms (Acker, 2011; Craig & Sprang, 2010; Thompson et al., 2014). In contrast, studies examining burnout prevention have found that smaller caseloads, less paperwork and more flexibility at work are associated with lower rates of burnout (Lent & Schwartz, 2012). Burnout results in negative outcomes for both practitioners and their clients. Symptoms of burnout are not solely psychological; burnout has also been linked to physical ailments such as headaches and gastrointestinal problems (Kim et al., 2011).
The following studies examine correlates and predictors of burnout in mental health care providers. The first study investigates burnout amongst practitioners working on posttraumatic stress disorder clinical teams in Veterans Affairs (VA) health care settings. The second study examines correlates of burnout in sexual minority practitioners, and the third study investigates the impact of personality on burnout. Finally, the fourth study examines factors that may prevent burnout.
The information is here.