The Dark Side of Empathy: Empathy Predicts Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in Mental Health Professionals
Mental health professionals dedicate their lives to helping others manage negative lifeexperiences, trauma, and suffering. They are susceptible to becoming overwhelmed by negativeemotions due to utilizing empathy to understand clients’ experiences, as vital for effectivetherapy. Research suggests that these challenging experiences may lead to compassion fatigueand burnout in mental health professionals. These negative outcomes cause the inability tofunction effectively in a clinical role and negatively impact clients. The research on empathy isinsufficient in examining the effect of empathy on compassion fatigue and burnout in mentalhealth professionals. This study attempts to fill this gap in research by measuring the impact ofempathy on compassion fatigue and burnout in mental health professionals. Analyses indicatedthat hours spent with clients, profession, years of experience, and poor working conditionsrelated to increased compassion fatigue. Emotional contagion emerged as the strongest predictorof compassion fatigue. Working conditions significantly predicted burnout, poor workingconditions were associated with increased burnout. Emotional contagion also predicted burnout,but to a lesser extent than working conditions.
Counseling Psychology|Psychology|Mental health
White, Ashley M, "The Dark Side of Empathy: Empathy Predicts Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in Mental Health Professionals" (2021). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI28317463.
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