Exhausted but Not Cynical: Burnout in Therapists Working Within Improving Access to Psychological Therapy Services

J Ment Health. 2015 Feb;24(1):33-7. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2014.971145.


Background: Burnout is common in mental health professionals and has serious personal and professional consequences. Levels and predictors of burnout for therapists within "Improving Access to Psychological Therapies" (IAPT) services are thus far unknown.

Aims: This study investigated levels and predictors of three burnout dimensions--Emotional Exhaustion (EE), Depersonalisation (DP) and Personal Accomplishment (PA)--in IAPT therapists.

Methods: Therapists from eight services completed a web-based survey measuring burnout levels and hypothesised burnout predictors. Reponses were matched to demographic information on clients with whom they had completed treatment in the last 2 months.

Results: 116 (n) therapists showed comparatively high levels of EE, and relatively low levels of DP and PA. These were predicted by some factors from the General Burnout Model and by Work Involvement styles. Stressful Involvement, in particular in-sessions feelings of anxiety predicted EE and DP, and Healing Involvement predicted Personal Accomplishment. The most important predictors of therapist burnout were service-related, particularly work demands and autonomy, and in-session feelings.

Conclusions: Addressing these factors in IAPT services may prevent therapist burnout.

Keywords: IAPT; TWIS; Therapist burnout.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Young Adult