Date of Conferral







Eric W. Hickey


A mental health practitioner must refrain from partaking in any mental health work if personal problems interfere with his or her ability to provide services in a competent manner. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how mental health practitioners manage personal problems to stay ethically compliant. Previous research has indicated that a significant amount of literature has revealed the causes and damaging effects of burnout among mental health workers. However, there remains an important gap in the current literature that links burnout directly with competently providing quality care. Ethical compliance, self-care, and mental health practitioners' perceptions were explored to answer research questions that were centered around the lived experiences of mental health workers. Guided by these research questions, semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 8 current mental health practitioners who practice in a southern U.S. state. The data were analyzed according to interpretive phenomenological analysis procedures. Themes that were extrapolated are (a) building inner self-care rapport, (b) establishing healthy mental health practitioner and client relationships, and (c) personal and professional balance. Findings from this study, in addition to existing literature on mental health practitioner's self-care and ethical requirements, indicated that mental health practitioners' perceptions assist in their ability to maintain ethical compliance. This would be an important contribution to the existing literature and would enhance social change initiatives by explaining the importance of more self-care training for mental health practitioners and the facilities that employ them.