Introduction: Burnout is a psychological syndrome that develops in response to chronic interpersonal job stressors and music therapists, like other healthcare providers, are at risk for burnout. To date, over 25 manuscripts related to burnout among music therapists have been published, however, no integration of the information exists.
Methods: An integrative review was conducted to provide a comprehensive synthesis of the literature on burnout among music therapists between the years of 1981 and 2017.
Results: A total of 26 publications from North America, Europe, and Asia were included, 17 of which were descriptive research studies. The findings indicated that music therapists are at average risk for burnout; however, they also experience more burnout than other mental health workers. Emotional exhaustion was the most experienced dimension of burnout, and Korean music therapists appear to be at greater risk than music therapists in other countries. Hours worked, years in the field, and gender did not appear to be strongly correlated with burnout, but work environment and work demands did appear to be connected. The most common contributors to burnout cited were work environment issues followed by compensation and workload, and individual personality traits may also increase the risk for burnout. However, self-care strategies may lower the degree of burnout experienced.
Discussion: Music therapists, like other helping professionals, are at risk for burnout. Strategies for managing and preventing burnout have been suggested, and those strategies are consistent with research in other fields. However, research is needed to explore the effectiveness of specific strategies.