Skip to main content Accessibility help

Stress and Burnout Among Rehabilitation Counsellors Within the Context of Insurance-Based Rehabilitation: An Institutional-Level Analysis

  • Nicholas Buys (a1) and Elizabeth Kendall (a1)


Work stress and burnout are common problems in rehabilitation services. Usually, attempts to account for stress and burnout focus on the qualities of the individual and the demands of the organisational environment. However, the current paper has responded to recent demands in the occupational stress literature to examine burnout from a third perspective, namely the institutional level. This level of analysis transcends the boundaries of organisations and can be defined by the various political, economic, social and legal constraints that characterise a broad area. It is argued that the rapid growth of insurance-based rehabilitation in Australia has created a unique institutional context that has significant implications for the development of stress and burnout among rehabilitation counsellors. Rehabilitation counsellors in this context face a diverse array of conflicting demands within a system that often does not support the goals of rehabilitation. It is proposed that the development of strategies to reduce stress and burnout in this area would benefit from an institutional-level analysis. While individualised stress management training clearly has a role in the minimisation of stress and burnout, it is proposed in the current paper that this issue has human resource management and educational implications that must be addressed.


Corresponding author

Center for Human Services, Faculty of Health Sciences, Griffith University, Nathan QL D 4111, Australia.


Hide All
Arches, J. (1991). Social structure, burnout and job satisfaction. Social Work, 36: 202206.
Berle, J.O., Haver, B., & Karterud, S.W. (1994). Group reactions in a hospital crisis intervention programme. Group Analysis, 27: 159171.
Buys, N. (1996). The Woodhouse Report 22 years on. The Australian Journal of Rehabilitation Counselling, 2, iiiii.
Cherniss, C. (1980). Professional burnout in human service organisations. NY: Praeger.
Cherniss, C. (1991). Institutional versus organisational levels of analysis: Commentary on Leiter. Canadian Psychohgy, 32: 559561.
Chinnery, D., Campbell, A., Churches, S., Houston, D., King, T., & Prophet, G. (1995). Is counselling a health hazard to counsellors? Occupational stress and occupational health for counsellors. The Australian Journal of Rehabilitation Counselling, 1: 6172.
Crimando, W., Riggar, T.F., & Hansen, G. (1986). Personnel turnover: The plaguue of rehabiliation facilities. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 17: 1720.
Curl, R.M., & Sheldon, J.B. (1992). Achieving reasonable choices: Balancing the rights and responsibilities of consumers with those of rehabilitation counsellors. Rehabilitation Education, 6: 195205.
Flett, R., Biggs, H, & Alpass, F. (1995). Job stress and professional practice: Implications for rehabilitation educators. Rehabilitation Education, 9: 275291.
Gilbride, D.D., Connolly, M., & Stensrud, R. (1990). Rehabilitation education for the private-for-profit sector. Rehabilitation Education, 4: 155162.
Habeck, R., Kress, M., Scully, S., & Kirchner, K. (1994). Determining the significance of the disability management movement for rehabilitation counselor education. Rehabilitation Education, 8: 195240.
Harris, P. (1994). Promoting rehabilitation: New directions for insurers. In Proceedings of the Advancing Rehabilitation: Conference of the Faculty of Health Sciences, (pp. 164173). Melbourne: La Trobe University.
Havranek, J.E., & Brodwin, M.G. (1994). Rehabilitation counselor curricula: Time for a change. Rehabilitation Education, 8: 369379.
Hawkins, R. (1993). There was movement at the station: Occupational rehabilitation and the changing nature of Australian workplaces. In Proceedings of the Second National Rehabilitation Conference, (pp. 239244). Sydney: CRS.
Heads of Workers' Compensation Authorities. (1997). Promoting excellence: National consistency in Australian Workers' Compensation. Melbourne: Labour Ministers Council.
Himle, D.P., Jayarantne, S., & Thyness, P. (1991). Buffering effects of four social support types on burnout among social workers. Social Work Research and Abstracts, 27: 2227.
Hursh, N.C. (1995). Essential competencies in industrial rehabilitation and disability management practice. In Shrey, D. and Lacerte, M. (Eds.). Principles and practices of disability management in industry, (pp. 303352), Florida: GR Press.
Industry Commission (1994). Workers' compensation in Australia. Canberra: AGPS.
Inglehart, A.P. (1990). Turnover in the social services: Turning over to the benefits. Social Service Review, December, 649657.
Jones, F., Fletcher, B.C., & Ibbetson, K. (1991). Stressors and strains among social workers: Demands, supports, constraints and psychological health. British Journal of Social Work, 21, 443469.
Kendall, E., Buys, N., & Lamer, J. (1996). Community-based rehabilitation: The promise and the paradox. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Kendall, E., & Terry, D. (1996). Psychosocial adjustment following closed head injury: A model for understanding individual differences and predicting outcome. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 6: 101132.
Kenny, D.T. (1995). Occupational rehabilitation in New South Woks. Lidcombe: Workcover Australia.
Kilbury, R.F., Benshoff, J.J., & Riggar, T.F. (1990). The expansion of private sector rehabilitation: Will rehabilitation education respond. Rehabilitation Education, 4: 163170.
Kruger, L.J., Bernstein, G., & Botman, H. (1994). The relationship between team friendships and burnout among residential counselors. The Journal of Social Psychology, 135: 191201.
Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. NY: Springer.
Leiter, M.P. (1991). Coping patterns as predictors of burnout: The function of control and escapist coping patterns. Journal of Organisational Behavior, 12: 123144.
Lynch, R. K., Lynch, R. T., & Beck, R.R. (1992). Rehabilitation counseling in the private sector. In Parker, M. R. & Szymanski, E. M. (Eds.). Rehabilitation counseling: Basics and beyond. Texas: Pro-ed.
Maslach, C. (1982). The cost of caring. NJ: Prentice Hall.
Matkin, R.E., & Bauer, L.L. (1993). Assessing predeterminants of job satisfaction among certified rehabilitation counselors in various work settings. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 24: 2633.
Mitchell, T. (1994). A study of job satisfaction and occupational stress among Australian rehabilitation counsellors. In Proceedings of the Conference of the Faculty of Health Sciences, (pp. 350356). Melbourne: La Trobe University.
Mitchell, T. (1996). Keeping the plates spinning: A qualitative study of job satisfaction and occupational stress among South Australian rehabilitation counsellors. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Munday, R.Windham, R., Cartwright, C., & Bodenhamer, R. (1995). Stress management training for preservice secondary teachers. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 22, 141145.
Price, L., & Spence, S.H. (1994). Burnout symptoms amongst drug and alcohol service employees. Anxiety Stress and Coping, 7: 6784.
Raphael, B. (1986). When disaster strikes. NY: Basic Books.
Reynolds, S., & Shapiro, D. (1991). Stress reduction in transition: Conceptual problems in the design, implementation and evaluation of worksite stress management interventions. Human Relations, 44: 717733.
Reynolds, S., Taylor, E., & Shapiro, D. (1993). Session impact on outcome in stress management training, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 3: 325327.
Reynolds, S., & Briner, R.B. (1994). Stress management at work: With whom, for whom and to what ends?. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 22: 7589.
Riggar, T.F., Godley, S.H., & Hafer, M. (1984). Burnout and job satisfaction in rehabilitation administrators and direct service providers. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 27: 151160.
Riggar, T.F., Hansen, G., & Crimando, W. (1987). Rehabilitation employee organisational withdrawal behavior. Rehabilitation Psychology, 32: 121124.
Roberts, J.K. (1987). The life management model: Coping with stress through burnout. The Clinical Supervisor, 51: 107117.
Roessler, R. T., & Rubin, S.E. (1992). Case management and rehabilitation counseling: Procedures and techniques. (2nd Ed.). Texas: Pro-ed.
Rosse, J., Boss, R.W., Johnson, A.E., & Crown, D.F. (1991). Conceptualising the role of self-esteem in the burnout process. Group and Organisational Studies, 16: 428451.
Schaubroeck, J. & Jennings, K. (1991). A longitudinal investigation of the factors mediating the participative decision-making job satisfaction linkage. Multivariate Behavior Research, 26, 4968.
Schmidt, M.J., Riggar, T.F., Crimando, W., & Bordieri, J.E. (1992). Staffing for success: A guide for health and human service professionals. London: Sage.
Schulz, R., Greenley, J.R., & Brown, R. (1995). Organisation, management and client effects on staff burnout. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36: 333345.
Stewart, M., & Hodgkinson, P. (1994). Post-traumatic stress reactions in the professional. In Watts, R., and Home, D.J. de L (Eds). Coping with trauma: The victim and the helper. Brisbane: Aust. Academic Press.
Terry, D., Callan, V., & Sartori, G. (1996). Employee adjustment to an organisational merger: Stress, coping and intergroup differences. Stress Medicine, 12: 105122.
Toohey, J. (1993). Quality of working life project: Report on a study of occupational stress in Commonwealth Government employment. In Proceedings of the Second National Rehabilitation Conference, (pp. 312325). Sydney: CRS.
Urspring, A.W. (1986). Burnout in the human services: A review of the literature. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 29: 190199.
Williams, A. (1993). Meeting the demands of occupational rehabilitation in the 1990s. In Proceedings of the Second National Rehabilitation Conference, (pp. 454467). Sydney: CRS.
Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Commission (1997). Review of Rehabilitation: Report to the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Commission. Perth, WA: Author.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed