The No. 1 factor stressing practicing psychologists is their inability to strike a happy balance between work and home life, according to results of a new APA survey.

APA conducted the research to assess the need for colleague-assistance programs. Although such programs sprang up nationwide during the 1980s, today only 30 state, provincial or territorial psychological associations have one. Several programs were dismantled after a lack of use.

The top five stressors identified by the survey were:

  • Trying to achieve work-life balance (cited by 72 percent of respondents).
  • Dealing with insurance and managed care (68 percent).
  • Concerns about their patients’ safety (63 percent).
  • Family issues (61 percent).
  • Burnout and compassion fatigue (59 percent).

When asked whether they were currently experiencing stress, 51 percent of participants said yes. When asked whether they told anyone about their stress, 43 percent said no.

As psychologists, however, the survey respondents reported that when they are stressed, many do know how to tap a variety of coping strategies. Interestingly, while work-life balance was their top stressor, 96 percent said “maintaining balance between personal and professional lives” was their most effective coping response.

Other coping strategies cited by respondents included:

  • Seeking support from friends and peers (95 percent).
  • Talking to a colleague (94 percent).
  • Participating in hobbies (91 percent).
  • Increasing exercise (89 percent).
  • Receiving psychotherapy or counseling (64 percent).

Only 6 percent of respondents reported they contacted a colleague-assistance program.

The survey was sent to 5,000 practitioners, most of whom provide direct psychological services. APA got a response rate of 16 percent to 17 percent.

—S. Martin