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October 2021

The effects of job burnout on music therapists

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to describe job burnout in a sample of 204 music therapists. The degree of burnout was determined for individuals, as well as the degree to which they, and their employment, have utilized the burnout prevention and intervention techniques listed in the literature. A three-part questionnaire was sent to 500 music therapists, randomly selected from the 1984 membership directory of the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT). Part I elicited descriptive information, such as: age, number of years in the field, number of clients, served weekly and amount of time spent weekly in direct client contact. Part 2 was comprised of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach & Jackson, 1981), which determined the degree to which each individual music therapist was burned out. Part 3, developed by the author, determined the degree to which individuals, and their places of employment, utilized burnout prevention/intervention techniques. This sample of music therapists were found to have extremely low degrees of job burnout. In addition, individuals and their places of employment, were utilizing many of the burnout prevention/intervention techniques. A number of variables were found to correlate highly with burnout as defined by Maslach and Jackson (1981). These include: working under high-stress conditions, which correlates positively with emotional exhaustion; having re-energizing vacations which correlated negatively with emotional exhaustion and individual burnout scores; and satisfaction with client progress, which correlates negatively with depersonalization and individual burnout scores. Several reasons may account for the low burnout scores found this sample. First, burned out music therapists who received this questionnaire, may have been too apathetic to complete and return it. Second, music therapists may be less prone to burnout than other helping professionals described in literature. Third, prevention and intervention techniques are effective in combating burnout.

Keyword(s): job, burnout, music-therapist, Maslach-Burnout-Inventory.

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