Healing the Healers: Stress Among Psychotherapists
Surely, there is no real argument that mental health providers have job stress. This topic has been explored in numerous countries, including Great Britain, India, Spain, and Japan, to name a few. The Japanese Occupational Health department even developed a Brief Job Stress Questionnaire. Unfortunately, it is only available in Japanese.
The British studies by the British Psychological Society (BPS) did a study by survey in 2015. The findings were that 46 percent of psychologists surveyed reported that they experienced a depressed mood and 70 percent said that they found their jobs stressful. Many listed over-work as a primary factor in their burnout.
A study from a state in midwestern USA published by Deutsch, CJ in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (1984) surveyed 264 therapists about the amount and sources of their stress. The therapists completed a questionnaire on background
information, their beliefs, and a 36-item stress scale. What they found was that irrational beliefs and attitudes held by mental health providers lie at the center of their reported job stress.
The irrational beliefs uncovered are very interesting and can provide a basis for all psychologists and/or mental health providers to explore their own systems of beliefs. So, to that end, I list a few irrational beliefs for further contemplation.
- One should operate at peak efficiency and peak competence with all clients and at all times.
- If a client does not get better or terminates prematurely, it is the therapist’s fault for not doing a better job of engaging the client.
- A good psychotherapist is not likely to get “burnout” because a good therapist is emotionally well-balanced and can manage their own emotions and stress. So, if the therapist becomes “burned out,” it must mean that that person is not a good therapist and is not well adjusted after all.
- It is an embarrassment for a therapist to seek therapy for themselves.
As a mini-self-test, do you agree with any of the above beliefs? And, if you do agree with any of the beliefs, what are you going to do about it? Food for thought