Examining perceived racial microaggressions and burnout in helping profession graduate students of color
Wells, Eliza Maree
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The present study aims to examine the psychological well-being of helping profession students of color in relation to their experience with racial microaggressions throughout various aspects of their graduate training. This research specifically investigated the influence of perceived racial microaggressions on graduate student levels of professional burnout. Social support was also explored as research suggested that social support may serve as a buffer for experience with discrimination. The sample included 106 self-identified students of color (male and female), representing students from Social Work, Education, Counseling/ Clinical/Counseling/ and School Psychology, master’s and doctoral programs across the US. Researchers hypothesized that higher perceived racial microagressions would significantly predict high levels of burnout and vice versa. In the same regard, higher social support was predicted to significantly reduce the level of perceived racial microagressions. Results of this study suggested that social support was not a significant predictor of racial microaggressions or burnout. Racial microaggressions, however, were a significant predictor of burnout. Results were also provided for the analysis of an interaction effect using social support, racial microaggressions and burnout. The current research represents an important first step in a strategic approach to dealing with burnout as well as microaggressions in graduate training. The ability to identify developing problems early on, before they become more serious and pervasive, can enable timely, preventive solutions. It points to the possibility of being able to customize interventions to specific student populations. Implications for helping profession graduate training are discussed, as well as recommendations for future research.