Massing, N. (2021). Professional burnout: A phenomenological inquiry from a transpersonal psychology perspective [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

Burnout is comprehensively researched from a conventional linear perspective. Notwithstanding, the condition is pervasive, and research utilising alternative approaches are sorely lacking. The aim of this study was to go beyond the symptoms and determine the lived experiences and root causes of professionals who have been in burnout, from a transpersonal psychology perspective. Two research questions were formulated. What are the transpersonal characteristics of the embodied experiences of professionals who have had or are in burnout, and are personal meanings derived from burnout experiences? The research approach was phenomenological and employed a qualitative methodology. Interviews were conducted with eight professionals working in a range of industries. Interviews were conducted with a transpersonal focussed semi-structured interview schedule. The interviews were transcribed, and analysed, using theme analysis. Findings of this study revealed three themes which are phases in the process, namely State of Turmoil (manic phase), Dark Night of the Soul (phase of anguish, despair, and breakdown), and Breakthrough (final phase of realisations, integration, and transformation). Experiences of burnout from a transpersonal perspective, produced substantially different findings to the traditional literature. Burnout was described as having had meaning, and an essential life event for the participants’ personal learning and growth. These findings require us to think differently about how we define and treat burnout.

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