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Exploring burnout and its consequences in DPsych trainee counselling psychologists using a mixed-method study

Bagodi, V. (2023). Exploring burnout and its consequences in DPsych trainee counselling psychologists using a mixed-method study. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Introduction: Training in counselling psychology entails numerous professional, academic, and personal demands. Research shows numerous stressors are present throughout counselling training (Kumary & Baker, 2008; Scott, 2015). However, there is only one study, a qualitative exploration of burnout in trainee counselling psychologists, conducted by Archer (2020). Most burnout research has focused on qualified clinical and counselling practitioners, with a few studies on trainee clinical psychologists. The research has either been assessed qualitatively or quantitatively. The current study was designed to explore burnout as a part of a wider context by employing a mixed-method approach to bridge the research gap in how trainees experience burnout.

Method: The online survey consisted of demographic questions, Counselling Psychology Trainee Stress Survey, Maslach Burnout Inventory- Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS), Becks Depression Inventory-II, Athens Insomnia Scale, Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire-short, and a question on absenteeism. The study used statistical analysis to test the four hypotheses using 70 participants’ data. The hypotheses tested if the participants demonstrated experiencing levels of burnout and if year-3 trainees scored higher on burnout than year-1 trainees, and if burnout predicted psychological and occupational consequences of burnout in the trainees. A follow-up study was also conducted with individuals who self-identified as having experienced burnout during their DPsych training. Nine participants attended the online semi-structured interviews. Braun and Clarke’s (2022) reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse the interview transcripts.

Results: The statistical analysis showed that trainees’ burnout levels increased with stress scores. In addition, the trainees demonstrated some level of burnout on MBI-HSS. The mean scores of the three subscales for the trainees showed a high level of emotional exhaustion, a high level of depersonalisation, and a moderate level of reduced personal accomplishment. Burnout predicted depression scores in the trainees and did not predict insomnia, job satisfaction, and absenteeism. Six themes were generated from inductive reflexive thematic analysis. Theme one, “Burnout: in and out”, presented the endurance of burnout in the trainees. The second theme, “Survival mode,” is concerned with the trainees’ perception of having no time to slow down as they had to keep up with the demands of the training. Theme three, “Scrapping through”, related to trainees’ ways of coping and managing academics during their burnout experience. Theme four, “The bad therapist”, focused on the trainees’ encounters with clinical practice as they battled burnout. The fifth theme, “Pandemic made it worse”, presented the effect on Covid-19 pandemic on trainees’ experience of burnout. The final theme, “Support network – the bliss and misery”, is related to the impact of support on trainees’ burnout and vice versa.

Discussion: Trainees presented with burnout and reported various personal and professional areas affected by it. There is a need for the trainees to recognise their burnout, slow down and take care of themselves. Necessary recommendations are made in the study.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Bagodi Thesis 2023 Redacted PDF-A.pdf]
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