Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Laura Boisen, PhD

Second Advisor

Lois Bosch, PhD

Third Advisor

Michael Schock, PhD


It is widely agreed that social work has an emotional and stressful load that can lead to social worker burnout. Burnout needs to be clearly defined and the different variables causing stress leading to burnout need to be fully understood in order to implement appropriate preventative strategies. Burnout is defined as the emotional depletion felt from a continuous drain on one's personal reserves. Burnout has three different components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment. The findings suggest that the type of supervision has an impact on social worker burnout. Supervision is divided into its three functions: administrative, educational, and supportive. Social workers receiving supportive supervision experience lower levels of burnout. A mailed survey was distributed to 165 Minnesota NASW Metropolitan area members. Questions were asked regarding respondents current experience of any burnout symptoms and their experience with receiving adequate supervision. The items were both quantitative and qualitative. The response rate was fairly good (60, or 36%, of the 165 surveys were returned). Results of those who completed and returned the surveys found that supportive supervision is a preventative measure against social worker burnout. Additional findings suggest that all areas of supervision provide social workers with necessary resources that can protect social workers from burnout. This study adds to the burnout body of research addressing the relationship between adequate supervision and the prevention of burnout.


SC 11.MSW.2004.Jarl.KL

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Social Work Commons