Psychologists are exposed to many stressors that could cause them to have a negative outlook on their careers. Dealing with long hours, extensive paperwork, and insurance companies can lead to burnout in the mental health field. Working with difficult clients and being privy to distressing information can also place psychologists at a high risk for work-related stress and job dissatisfaction. Although most of the existing research suggests that psychologists are relatively happy with their careers, Patricia A. Rupert, associate professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago, wanted to explore the nuances of job satisfaction among them.
Rupert assessed surveys from two groups of psychologists that were part of a larger survey. The first group of 129 psychologists reported high job satisfaction levels, while the second group, consisting of 102 psychologists, reported moderate satisfaction levels. Rupert’s goal was to analyze the factors that contributed to high satisfaction versus moderate satisfaction. She looked first at whether job satisfaction correlated with growth and income opportunities as well as working environments. Secondly, Rupert identified working hours, case load, therapeutic mode, administrative responsibilities, professional improvement strategies, and negative client interactions.
The review provided evidence that several variables contribute to career satisfaction for psychologists. Specifically, Rupert found that the majority of moderately satisfied psychologists had poor professional and personal life balances and felt little sense of control in their work environments. The most satisfied participants were those with a harmonious personal/professional structure and positive work experiences. In contrast to research that suggests high rates of burnout among mental health professionals as a result of the work stressors, this research demonstrates that there are multiple nuances that influence the overall job satisfaction of therapists and psychologists. “Our results provide encouraging evidence that, despite the many challenges providers face in this evolving health care environment, practicing psychologists, as a whole, remain very satisfied with their careers,” Rupert added.
Rupert, P. A., Miller, A. O., Hartman, E. R. T., Bryant, F. B. (2012). Predictors of career satisfaction among practicing psychologists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029420
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