Personal risk factors associated with burnout among psychotherapists: A systematic review of the literature

J Clin Psychol. 2018 Sep;74(9):1431-1456. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22615. Epub 2018 Mar 24.


Objectives: Emotionally taxing job demands place psychotherapists at risk for burnout, often to the detriment of the therapist, clients, and the profession of psychotherapy (Maslach, 2007). The aim of the present systematic review was to (a) explore the levels of both burnout and job stress in psychotherapists, (b) identify tools used to measure work-related stress and burnout, and (c) identify personal risk factors for developing burnout among psychotherapists.

Method: Databases PsycINFO, Medline, EMBASE, ASSIA, and CINHAL were searched. Forty articles met inclusion criteria.

Results: Over half of sampled psychotherapists reported moderate-high levels of burnout, with the majority of results based on quantitative cross-sectional self-report surveys. Younger age, having less work experience, and being overinvolved in client problems were the most common personal risk factors for moderate-high levels of stress and burnout among psychotherapists.

Conclusion: It appears that psychotherapists commonly experience some burnout, and personal factors influence burnout development.

Keywords: burnout; occupational stress; psychologists; psychotherapists.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Risk Factors*
  • Self Report