A survey of board-certified music therapists: perceptions of the profession, the impact of stress and burnout, and the need for self-care

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This descriptive research study explored practicing Board-Certified Music Therapists' engagement in self-care as needed from the impact of stress and burnout, as well as perceptions of the music therapy profession

This descriptive research study explored practicing Board-Certified Music Therapists' engagement in self-care as needed from the impact of stress and burnout, as well as perceptions of the music therapy profession and professional association. An online survey was completed by 829 practicing board certified music therapists. Mean scores and percentages of nominal variables were generated from an independent sample. ANOVA was used to compare mean scores of dependent variables with independent variables of two or more categories. Open-ended responses generated extensive qualitative data about stress/burnout, job satisfaction, motivation, and self-care. Those who are not currently members of AMTA reported affordability as the primary reason for not being members. Despite some negative perceptions about the profession and professional association, a significant number of music therapists expressed a passion for what they do. Music therapists appear to have a solid grasp on professional responsibilities and ethics. Although respondents reported an overall high level of job satisfaction, a substantial number agreed that they have considered leaving the profession. Low salary was the most commonly acknowledged reason, followed by the continued need to "sell" music therapy, burnout, stress, limited work opportunities, and workplace politics. Respondents identified healthy diet and rest as primary activities of self-care, followed by recreation/leisure time with loved ones, exercise, hobbies, and prayer. Music therapists reportedly continue to feel motivated and inspired in the profession predominantly because of the gratification/satisfaction of the results of their work, followed by engagement in self-care, loving the work regardless of income, attending conferences and symposiums, diversification among various populations, and keeping professional life separate from personal life. ANOVA results indicated that job satisfaction and engagement in self-care likely increase with age; job satisfaction is higher among married music therapists, those with children, and those with more than 30 years in practice; and those with no children and those with a master's or doctorate degree were more likely to engage in self-care. A variety of implications and recommendations are explored.