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Rural Mental Health Clinician Self-Care: A Qualitative Study

Stroup, Jennifer Elizabeth and Riding-Malon, Ruth and Werth Jr., James L. and Aspelmeier, Jeffery (2014) Rural Mental Health Clinician Self-Care: A Qualitative Study. [Dissertation]

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Mental health professionals search for ways to best balance self- and other-care. Rural practitioners face a number of challenges including dual relationships, a lack of clinician privacy, lack of resources, client poverty, and limited referral options. Self-care has been identified as an ethical imperative to maintain clinician wellness and avoid impaired professional competence. Traditional recommendations for self-care strategies include limiting scope of practice, seeking consultation/supervision, and obtaining personal treatment. The current qualitative study used grounded theory to explore whether these traditional recommendations are feasible for the rural clinician faced with the above challenges. Eight mental health professionals providing services in rural areas participated in semi-structured interviews followed by discussions of commonly recommended strategies for practitioner self-care. The therapists discussed common challenges and opportunities associated with rural practice; self-care strategies were noted to be unique to the individual, with commonalities found across clinicians. Participants highlighted the importance of having multiple strategies in addition to using support systems and available resources. Barriers to self-care included finances, distance and travel, and lack of available resources. They reported that strategies of personal therapy and reducing client load were of limited utility. Personal therapy required traveling to avoid dual relationships, thus costing them additional billable hours to attend sessions. Reduction in client load would require some participants to switch to part-time or risk not meeting contract agreements. In communities with limited therapists and great need, these solutions may not be workable. Results suggest rural clinicians engage in self-care using strategies that differ from the traditional recommendations. Keywords: rural, self-care, distress, practitioner, qualitative Jennifer E. Stroup, M.S. Department of Psychology, 2014 Radford University

Item Type: Dissertation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Radford University > College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences > Department of Psychology
Depositing User: Jennifer Elizabeth Stroup
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2014 14:55
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2022 13:52
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/168

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