eISSN: 2720-5371
ISSN: 1230-2813
Advances in Psychiatry and Neurology/Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii
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vol. 33
Original paper

A crisis of exhaustion in the game of escalation: a qualitative exploration of the consequences of occupational burnout among addiction therapists

Justyna I. Klingemann
Łukasz Wieczorek

  1. Department of Health Sociology and Addiction Research, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland
Adv Psychiatry Neurol 2024; 33 (1): 18–25
Online publish date: 2024/02/12
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Research shows that occupational burnout can affect health, the quality of personal relationships, and levels of job satis­faction and engagement. At the same time, the impact of individual burnout at the group and organisational levels has tended to be neglected. We aim to provide theoretical insights into the multidimensionality of burnout consequences at the individual, interpersonal and societal levels.

A theory-driven, computer-assisted qualitative data analysis was conducted, comprising a thematic analysis of 40 semi- structured telephone interviews with therapists working in alcohol treatment facilities in Poland. Maximum variation sampling was used to ensure the representation of participants with different characteristics.

To theorise the implications of the collected data, the different viewpoints of addiction therapists on burnout and its consequences were interpreted through the lens of Rosa’s resonance theory. Four interrelated sets of consequences were identified in the data: they related to (a) the therapists themselves, (b) their patients and the therapeutic process, and – in a broader sense – (c) the therapeutic team and (d) the treatment facility.

Occupational burnout in individual therapists has serious implications for their patients and colleagues. It can also lead to a reduction in the quality and ultimately the effectiveness of the treatment of alcohol use disorders leading to a negative social image of the treatment facility and thus creating a further barrier to treatment for people with alcohol-related problems. Furthermore, the complexity of the individual experience of occupational burnout and a cause-and-effect chain forms a loop, deepening the severity of its consequences.


alcohol treatment system, staff burnout, theory of resonance, burnout outcomes

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