Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Mental Health: A Survey of Music Therapists
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
With ever increasing job demands on those in the care-giving professions, the potential for compassion fatigue and burnout have increased. With little research and information on compassion fatigue and burnout related specifically to music therapists working in mental health, further investigation is needed. The purpose of this study was to examine the current knowledge of the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue and burnout in music therapists who have worked with the mental health population. A researcher-designed survey was developed for the purpose of this research. Subjects were 150 professional music therapists who identified themselves with the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) as working with mental health populations. The main focus of this survey was to assess the knowledge of signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue and burnout among music therapists working in mental health. Additionally, a secondary focus was to learn where information was obtained, if they have experienced or are currently experiencing signs and symptoms of burnout, and if there was assistance offered to address the aforementioned issues. Finally, the survey participants were asked if they feel as though there is a need to increase the awareness ofthese issues through the educational process for students and new music therapy professionals. The results show that burnout was experienced by 65.5% of respondents while only 37.8% reported having experienced the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue while working in mental health. Survey participants were able to identify symptoms they have experienced which included stress, mental/physical exhaustion, decreased productivity and pessimism. The results of this survey also indicate that music therapists feel there is a need for increased education for students and new music therapy professionals. These results are discussed as supporting the need for further investigation and research surrounding compassion fatigue and burnout among music therapy professionals working in mental health.