Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Franco Dispenza

Second Advisor

Catharina Chang

Third Advisor

Jane Brack

Fourth Advisor

Jodi Kaufmann


Paris and Hoge (2009) reported that mental health practitioners are experiencing high demands, high levels of stress, and are subsequently experiencing burnout and turning over in many of their workplace settings (i.e. community mental health, hospital). Burnout has serious health and occupational consequences for the mental health practitioner. Viehl and Dispenza (2015) identified that the phenomenon is occurring for sexual minority men at higher rates when compared with sexual minority women and heterosexual men and women, but they did not identify whether the experience of burnout was attributed to gender, sexual orientation, or the intersection of the two . Thus, the focus of the present study was to explore unique experiences of sexual minority men in the mental health field and what specific variables related to their gender and/or sexual orientation contribute to their experiences of burnout. This study utilized two phases to explore how sexual minority men experience burnout within the mental health field. Forty-one participants completed Phase 1 which consisted of a demographic questionnaire and the Counselor Burnout Inventory (CBI). Twenty-one participants participated in semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Using multiple standards of trustworthiness (e.g., member checking, investigator triangulation), researchers analyzed each interview from a constructivist grounded theoretical framework. The core category emerged as synthesis of identities. Additionally, three main themes emerged in support of synthesis of identities: (a) mental health field as a systemic contributor to burnout, (b) gender norms/expectations as a contributor to burnout, and (c) sexual identity oppression as a contributor to burnout. Implications for counselor education and supervision are discussed.