A mixed methods investigation of stress, compassion fatigue and satisfaction, governed by self-care strategies, for integrative Irish psychotherapists : this too shall pass

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Gallagher, Shane
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The aims of this study were threefold. Firstly, to compile strong quantitative and qualitative, baseline data, regarding demographics, measures for stress, compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction and self-care strategies, for accredited integrative psychotherapists, on a national level, Secondly, to explore the relationship between these concepts, quantitatively and qualitatively and thirdly, to demonstrate the effectiveness of a mixed methodology approach to research. Seventy six participants (N=76), (Gender M/F = 15/61), (Age 35-44 = 10; 45-54 = 23; 55-64 = 37; 65-74 = 6) completed an on-line questionnaire and participants were purposively selected, on the basis of being accredited integrative Irish psychotherapists. Information was collected on, demographics, participation in several self-care strategies y/n, and on total consistent time, dedicated to self-care strategies per month. Participants were also rated on the perceived stress scale (PSS-10) (Cohen, Kamarck & Mermelstein, 1983) and on the professional quality of life scale (ProQol-V) (Stamm, 2010). The statistical analysis indicated that client hours per month significantly predicted stress scores, to a negative moderate amount and that academic qualifications significantly predicted burn out scores, to a positive minimal amount, no other significant predictive correlations were found. However, a profile plot indicated an inverse correlation between mean perceived stress scores and the amount of self-care strategies used, for therapists in private practice. No extreme scores were recorded for stress or burnout; some extreme scores were recorded for secondary traumatic stress (N=12) and compassion satisfaction (N=12). Qualitative analysis indicated the uniqueness of self-care strategies employed. Both methodologies highlighted areas of interest and concern including, access to Irish participant therapist populations, stigma/labelling associated with negative concepts and the importance of good supervision. Author keywords: Stress, compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, self-care