The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

5082.0: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - Table 4

Abstract #47096

Emotional exhaustion among substance abuse treatment counselors:

J. Aaron Johnson, PhD1, Paul M. Roman, PhD2, and Hannah K. Knudsen, MA1. (1) Center for Research on Behavioral Health and Human Services Delivery, University of Georgia, 101 Barrow Hall, D. W. Brooks Drive, Athens, GA 30602, 7065426054,, (2) Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Georgia, 101 Barrow Hall, D. W. Brooks Drive, Athens, GA 30602

Emotional labor is a prominent demand of jobs in health services delivery. A negative consequence of engagement in emotional labor is emotional exhaustion. Substance abuse counseling is an occupation in which high levels of emotional exhaustion are pervasive. Using a nationally representative sample of 1107 substance abuse treatment counselors employed at 215 private substance abuse treatment facilities, we examine demographic and career correlates of emotional exhaustion. Using structural equation modeling techniques, the paper tests a model of emotional exhaustion. Employee autonomy, and workplace communication have significant negative effects on emotional exhaustion. Surprisingly, neither caseload size nor recovery status significantly predict emotional exhaustion. Demographic controls reveal that older counselors report lower levels of emotional exhaustion. Using organization level data gathered from the program administrators at each of the treatment facilities where the counselors were employed, the impact of different types of clients as well as the effect of time spend dealing with managed care was also examined. Results show that both the percentage of criminal justice system referrals and the percentage of primary drug abusers have significant positive effects on emotional exhaustion. The results suggest that the levels of emotional exhaustion among counselors may be improved by increasing counselor autonomy as well as improving the degree to which there are open lines of communication between counselors and those in supervisory positions.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Caregivers, Counseling

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

New Approaches and Issues in Substance Abuse Treatment Roundtable Session

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA