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Therapists' Burnout

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Occupational stress and failures of social support: When helping hurts. By Beehr, T. A., Bowling, N. A., & Bennett, Misty M., Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15 (1), 2010, 45-59.

Abstract: Research, theory, and practice generally assume that contact with others, often characterized as social support, is beneficial to the recipient. The current study, however, explores the possibility that workplace social interactions, even if intended to be helpful, can sometimes be harmful. University employees (N = 403) completed an online survey examining three types of potentially supportive interactions with other people in the workplace that might be harmful: Interactions that make the person focus on how stressful the workplace is, help that makes the recipient feel inadequate or incompetent, and help that is unwanted. Results suggest that these types of social interactions at work were indeed likely to be related to worse rather than to improved psychological and physical health. The most potentially harmful forms of these three social interactions were those that drew the person’s attention to stress in the workplace. These results indicate that in some instances social interactions, even if ostensibly helpful, may be harmful.

The role of exhaustion and workarounds in predicting occupational injuries: A cross-lagged panel study of health care professionals. By Halbesleben J. R. B. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15 (1), Jan 2010, 1-16.

Abstract: Occupational injuries remain an important concern for employers, particularly in the health care industry where injury rates have increased despite decreases in other industries. Testing the notion of resource investment from conservation of resources theory, I predicted that exhaustion would be associated with a greater likelihood of safety workarounds (alternative work processes undertaken to "work around" a perceived block in work flow, such as a safety procedure). Furthermore, I hypothesized that safety workarounds would lead to a greater frequency and severity of occupational injuries. I found support for this mediation model with a 2-sample, 3-wave survey study of a variety of health care professionals (nurses, sonographers, and others). I discuss the implications of this research for future research in occupational safety and provide ideas for the reduction of injuries through action research strategies that reduce burnout and workarounds.

An examination of burnout among school counselors guided by stress-strain-coping theory. By Wilkerson, K. Journal of Counseling & Development, 87 (4), 2009, 428-437.

Summary: The Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educators Survey was used to examine burnout among professional school counselors. Guided by stress-srain-coping theory, final hierarchical regression models accounted for almost 50% of the variation on the Emotional Exhaustion scale, 27% on the Depersonalization scale, and 36% on the Personal Accomplishment scale. Numerous individual stress and coping variables significantly predicted burnout among school counselors in the multivariate context.

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