Loving-kindness: Self-compassion, burnout and empathy among therapists

Submitted by James Miller on Tue, 02/01/2011 - 18:19
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TitleLoving-kindness: Self-compassion, burnout and empathy among therapists
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsAmrani, P.
Date Published2010
ISBN Number9781124164137, 1124164138
KeywordsClinical psychology

This study examined the relationship between self-compassion, empathy and burnout, and whether self-compassion had a "buffering effect" for a psychotherapist and could protect against the effects of high empathy, i.e. burnout. The sample consisted of 301 psychotherapists between the ages of 23 to 89, working in the United States Utilizing an online data collection site, the participants completed previously validated self-report measures designed to assess self-compassion (Neff, 2003), empathy (Jolliffe & Farrington, 2006), and burnout (Maslach, 1996). The main finding in this study was that there was a strong correlation, yet no evidence for causation, between high self-compassion and low burnout for all three subscales of burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment). Furthermore, high empathy was correlated with higher burnout only for the subscale of emotional exhaustion, but not for the two other burnout subscales of depersonalization and personal accomplishment. Hence, the hypothesized "buffer effect" of self-compassion "protecting" the individual against the effects of high empathy, i.e. high burnout, would only apply to the combination between these two variables: high empathy and high emotional exhaustion. However, no "buffer effect" of self-compassion was found in this study.

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