More than half of therapists are burned out, SimplePractice survey finds

More than half of therapists report experiencing burnout this year, a new survey has found. 

The survey was conducted by SimplePractice, a platform serving practitioners, and reached 550 respondents in August 2023. Those polled included counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, psychologists, substance abuse counselors and applied behavioral analysts. 

At a time when Americans are increasingly seeking mental health treatment and there is a behavioral health workforce shortage, three-quarters of respondents who have experienced burnout say they are hesitant to take on more acute patients. 

Top contributors to burnout include work-life balance challenges (60%), administrative burdens (55%), compassion fatigue (54%) and stressors in personal life (48%). Others include dealing with insurance, low pay and the severity and complexity of clients increasing. 

“Our latest report shines a light on critical areas of concern and areas of opportunity to support practitioners within this challenging environment,” Jonathan Seltzer, president of SimplePractice, said in a press release. “We’re hopeful that the findings within our 2023 Therapist Well-Being Report is a rallying call for policymakers, mental health institutes, and fellow technology providers to do more to alleviate the burdens facing mental health practitioners, and ultimately, improve access and quality of care for patients.”

Nearly half of those currently burned out say their burnout has gotten worse since the first wave of COVID-19, according to the survey. Three-quarters of practitioners experiencing burnout serve LGBTQ+ clients. 

Nearly a third of those burned out and 15% of those who are not are considering leaving the field. Of all those who say they are thinking of leaving, more than half say they plan to leave in the next five years. 

Among those who are burned out, 67% have reduced their patient caseload and half say their burnout has made them more cynical. Nearly half have questioned their ability to stay committed to their profession, and a third are charging higher rates because of their burnout.

Of the half of therapists who have experienced burnout this year, 84% say they need more rest and recovery time. Three-quarters report feeling more tired and many say they feel emotionally drained. More than a third have difficulty engaging in personal activities. 

Those who have sought support found relief through other professionals (60%), reinforcing boundaries with patients (64%) and seeking their own mental health treatment (53%).