Helping professionals are systemically exposed to the suffering of their clients, resulting in emotional and behavioral consequences. Stamm’s (2010) theoretical framework for professional quality of life is characterized by the positive (compassion satisfaction) and negative (burnout and secondary traumatic stress) facets of the work of helping professionals. Graduate students in the fields of counseling and psychology are establishing life-long professional practices, caught between the demands of caring for others and attending to their own needs. The present study assessed the frequency of self-care practices among clinical psychology and clinical mental health counseling graduate students to predict their professional quality of life, an undertaking that has been overlooked in previous investigations. This study’s contributions are unique given that typologies of burnout were also assessed utilizing the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI; Kristensen, Borritz, Villadsen, & Christensen, 2005), and programmatic differences were explored. Results of bivariate regression analyses revealed that engagement in self-care was a positive predictor of compassion satisfaction and a negative predictor of burnout. In examining typologies, self-care was found to be an inverse predictor of work-related and client-related burnout. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of academic training, organizational and institutional policies, and the developmental trajectory of helping professionals. Prospective investigations should seek to examine the relationship between compassion fatigue and self-care among counseling and clinical psychology trainees. Prevention, advocacy, and intervention efforts are salient to professional quality of life; thus, future explorations should evaluate the implementation and efficacy of these self-care initiatives.

Date of publication

Summer 7-31-2019

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Dr. Eric Stocks, Dr. Sarah Sass, Dr. Dennis Combs


Master of Science in Clinical Psychology