Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Professional Burnout Edited by W. B. Schaufeli, C. Maslach and T. Marek

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Professional Burnout Edited by W. B. Schaufeli, C. Maslach and T. Marek

Article excerpt

At a time when external constraints make successful psychotherapy an increasingly difficult achievement, it is reasonable to assume that more and more of psychotherapists will experience burnout. If one wished to study the burnout of psychotherapists, this book would be a good starting point.

Based on the first European Conference on Professional Burnout held in Krakow, Poland, in 1990, the book presents papers by the leaders in what is now a well-developed academic area. In the 16 years prior to the Conference, over 2,500 papers on burnout had been published. Thus, the time was ripe for a meeting that summarized the state of theory and research in the area. This book does so, and does it well.

For this reader the chapter by Maslach and Schaufeli on the historical development of the concept of burnout was particularly instructive. Maslach, a pioneer in the field, emphasizes in another chapter the triad of behaviors involved in burnout; emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. Her instrument for assessing burnout remains the standard in the field.

I found Pines's essay on the existential perspective on burnout illuminating. Her basic thesis that it is those who search most avidly for their basic sense of meaning in work who are most vulnerable to burnout is in keeping with my clinical experience. To have played the game and won, only to conclude that the wrong game was played, is an all-too-common story if one treats mid- and late-life professionals.

The papers also suggest some of what is yet to be learned about burnout. …

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