Academic journal article Journal of Employment Counseling

Cross-Cultural Validation of the Counselor Burnout Inventory in Hong Kong

Academic journal article Journal of Employment Counseling

Cross-Cultural Validation of the Counselor Burnout Inventory in Hong Kong

Article excerpt

This study investigated the cross-cultural validation of the Chinese translation of the Counselor Burnout Inventory (CBI) with a sample of school counselors in Hong Kong. Specifically, this study examined the CBI's factor structure using confirmatory factor analysis and calculated the effect size, to compare burnout scores among the counselors of 4 countries (Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and the United States). Results indicated that a 5-factor model was the most appropriate to accommodate the data. In addition, the results showed that the levels of Hong Kong counselors' burnout were similar to those of U.S. counselors, but differed from counselors in Japan and South Korea.

Keywords: counselor burnout, scale development, cross-cultural validation


In most developed countries, school counselors' workloads and responsibilities have expanded exponentially in recent years. They now have many different professional roles to play, including conducting individual and group counseling and educational testing, giving advice to students on academic and career matters, providing clinical supervision of school counselor trainees, and completing a growing number of administrative tasks (Paisley & McMahon, 2001). Increased workloads and (in some schools) ambiguity in the precise role of a school counselor can create a situation that leads easily to burnout (Freeman & Coil, 1997; Kendrick & Chandler, 1994). In this context, burnout refers to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, a reduced level of motivation, and a weakened sense of personal accomplishment (Wilkerson, 2004). High levels of school counselor burnout can also lead to physical and mental stress and job dissatisfaction in the workplace (Brewer & Clippard, 2002).

Over the past decade in Hong Kong--a region known for its large class sizes and its emphasis on examinations and academic achievement--school counseling responsibilities have expanded, and the phenomenon of school counselor burnout has now appeared for the first time. Since 2002, comprehensive guidance and counseling programs have been implemented in all Hong Kong primary schools. Similar to the situation in the United States, full-time school counselors are now employed in primary schools to provide a "guidance curriculum" to all students, organize responsive individual and group counseling for students in need, and give support to teachers and parents (Yuen, 2008). The typical staffing ratio is 1 counselor for every 600 students. Given that a recent study estimated that more than 20% of primary school students are in need of individual and group guidance, this represents a heavy workload. During 2010-2011, more than 30% of counselors left their school posts, possibly as a direct result of workload pressures but also possibly because of the environment in which they work (Alliance for School Guidance Services, 2011). Thus, it is timely to focus attention on understanding and assessing burnout symptoms among school counseling personnel in Hong Kong. However, for researchers wishing to investigate burnout in this predominantly Cantonese-speaking region, there is no existing inventory available.

Most previous studies in the West have used the Maslach Burnout Inventory--Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS; Maslach & Jackson, 1981) and the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educators Survey to investigate school counselor burnout (Wilkerson & Bellini, 2006). These inventories examine burnout symptoms at an individual level rather than at the organizational level (Vredenburgh, Carlozzi, & Stein, 1999). Because school counselors work not only with students and parents but also operate within an organization (the school), it is clear that any assessment of school counselor burnout has to consider both the individual and organizational aspects.

One existing measure of burnout that does incorporate both individual and organizational levels is the Counselor Burnout Inventory (CBI; Lee et al. …

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