Family and Work Influence Psychologists’ Overall Life Satisfaction

Many studies have examined how family life can affect work (FWC) and how work can affect family life (WFC). But few studies have looked closely at how the overall life satisfaction of psychologists is influenced by work and family. Mental health professionals work in a field in which they are exposed to highly stressful scenarios much of the time. This can negatively impact their own psychological state, causing fatigue, exhaustion, depression, agitation, or anxiety. Although most clinicians realize their vulnerability, they may not be fully aware of how their work life can impact their family lives. In addition, clinicians who have family obligations and responsibilities may not be cognizant of the effect of their family situations on their professional experience. Patricia A. Rupert, Associate Professor of Psychology at Loyola University of Chicago, expanded on her previous research in this area by conducting a study that explored FWC and WFC independently and how each of these affected overall life satisfaction in 368 doctoral psychologists with families.

Rupert chose to look specifically at positive effects and found that the psychologists that had control of their professional environments experienced the most satisfaction at work and at home. Rupert theorized that this effect was the result of a diminished WFC. She also discovered that the participants with the highest levels of family support experienced high levels of family and work satisfaction as well, again, as a result of diminished FWC. The participants with family and work satisfaction also reported the highest levels of overall life satisfaction, suggesting that fulfillment is a byproduct of satisfaction with career and family. Although Rupert did not find significant differences relative to gender, she did notice that the women felt more committed to their families than the men. This could indicate that women rely more on the emotional support and encouragement offered by family members in order to positively impact their sense of satisfaction at work as well as at home. In sum, Rupert noted that these findings clearly show how work and family can positively influence overall well-being of busy psychologists. She added, “Our findings underscore the importance of considering the interdependence of work and family in assessing demands and resources.”

Rupert, P. A., Stevanovic, P., Hartman, E. R. T., Bryant, F. B., & Miller, A. (2012). Predicting Work–Family Conflict and Life Satisfaction Among Professional Psychologists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026675

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  • Rae G

    March 1st, 2012 at 5:10 AM

    I could not deal with being a therapist if I had a crappy home life. Listening to others problems all day, what I would wan to be able to do would be to go home to a partner who wanted to laugh and talk and not sweat the small stuff. I think I would have had too much of that already!

  • Nikolai

    March 1st, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Don’t want a job that goes home with me
    Want something a little more laid back than that
    Guess that therapy is not the field to pursue
    Don’t know how they can leave it all behind at the end of the day

  • Carl

    March 2nd, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    I for one do not think that this outlook on life is limited to those in the therapy field. No matter what kind of job you have if you allow your outside life to influence your job performance for the worse then there are some issues there. The same thing is true when you bring the work home. Life is so much better when you are able to strike that perfect balance between work life and home life. It can’t all be about one or the other because real life is not like that. There will not be one person in the family who will not suffer if you let one aspect of life take priority over another.

  • shane st james

    March 3rd, 2012 at 5:49 AM

    If you work in a career that is high stress and emotional you have to have the love of your family. They are the ones who will end up giving you strength.

  • Rosie W

    March 4th, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    You state in here that the therapists who felt like they had control over their work and thei home lives felt the most amount of satisfaction in their lives, or something to that effect. That is a completely true statement that I think we can generalize and say that is true for every faction of life.

    When you feel anxiety or dissatisfaction in one area of life this is naturally going to flow into others. Life cannot be as compartmentalized as we tend to try to make it.

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