Relational-Cultural Experiences of Burnout by Mothers of Color in Online Counseling Programs
Burnout permeates helping professions and is a concern in counselor education and training. The defining characteristics of burnout are depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and reduced personal accomplishment. Data on burnout in diverse populations are notably limited. The primary goal of this qualitative grounded theory study was to understand the experiences of burnout in mothers of color (MoCs) who were enrolled in or recently (within the last 5 years) graduated from an online Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs accredited clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) program. Another goal of this study was to investigate how MoCs managed burnout. Participants were recruited via the use of social media, a listserv, and a university research participant pool. Purposeful criterion sampling aided in finding participants who self-identified as MoCs and self-reported having experienced burnout within their academic programs. Participants completed demographic surveys to identify diversity within the sample. Interview data were collected via phone. A constant comparative analysis was conducted using a relational cultural theoretical lens. This investigation illuminated (a) self-reported experiences of burnout by MoCs completing master's degrees online in CMHC, (b) how these MoCs reported managing experiences of burnout, (c) the development of a theory using the data obtained from MoCs descriptions of burnout, and (d) information that contributed to the literature exploring burnout in diverse populations. The implications this study may have for social change include the potential to identify areas where multicultural sensitivity is needed in program development and interventions to proactively help combat burnout in student MoCs.