Personality factors and their influence on autism spectrum therapist burnout and job satisfaction

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amy A. Hurt (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
David McCord

Abstract: Therapists working one-on-one with children with autism experience high levels of job-related stress and occupational "burnout," as well as lower levels of job satisfaction which results in higher than average job turnover. This is particularly unfortunate, in that these vulnerable clients need stability and consistency in care, both of which are empirically related to clinical outcomes. It is reasonable to assume that some people, by virtue of their individual characteristics, are better suited to this type of work than are other people. The purpose of the present research study was to investigate associations between normal personality traits, using the five-factor model of personality, and key job-related variables, including burnout and job satisfaction in a sample of therapists who work one on one with individuals diagnosed with autism. Significant positive or negative correlations were found between the personality factor of Neuroticism and all three subscales of burnout (Exhaustion, Cynicism, and Professional Efficacy). In addition, two other personality traits, Extraversion and Conscientiousness, were significantly negatively correlated with Cynicism and positively correlated with Professional Efficacy. Finally, the Agreeableness personality factor was positively associated with Professional Efficacy. A significant positive correlation was found between job satisfaction and Extraversion, and a negative correlation was found between job satisfaction and Neuroticism. By finding correlations between personality traits, subscales of burnout, and job satisfaction, we provide evidence of factors that may identify therapists who are at-risk for burnout prior to being hired. In addition, by identifying currently employed therapists who exhibit these risk factors, interventions can be applied to lower these scores and alleviate worker distress, ultimately positively influencing therapist job satisfaction and quality of work provided.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Autism, Burnout, Developmental Disabilities, Job Satisfaction, Personality, Therapists
Psychotherapists -- Job stress
Psychotherapists -- Job satisfaction
Child psychotherapists -- Job stress
Child psychotherapists -- Job satisfaction
Burn out (Psychology)

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