Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Sarah J. Noonan

Second Advisor

Fr. Jean-Pierre Bongila

Third Advisor

Kathleen M. Boyle


This phenomenological qualitative study examined the causes and coping strategies associated with personal, occupational, and organizational stress and burnout experienced by 15 Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADC). The review of literature described occupational hazards associated with stress, including interpersonal contacts with clients in emotionally demanding situations and organizational factors, such as leadership, are likely to affect employees’ stress levels. Findings described sources of personal stress as lack of money, caring for family members, aging, and family-work conflicts. Occupational stress included documentation requirements, a lack of time to complete paperwork, and difficulty with clients. Organizational stress included managing relationships with co-workers, adapting to change, working within a complex management structure, lack of diversity within management, and experiences associated with racism. Counselors experienced stress, reporting negative emotions, cognitive or thinking impairment, and poor health. Coping strategies included staying organized, taking short breaks, clinical supervision, professional therapy, thinking positively, relaxation and meditation techniques, humor, teamwork, effective leadership, maintaining cultural identity, establishing boundaries, and successful transition from work to home. Counselors adopted several preventative strategies to reduce the actual or anticipated effects of stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle, including talk therapy, meditation, religious practices, spirituality, physical activity, and taking vacations. Four theoretical frameworks were used to inform research findings: role, self determination, stereotype threat, and social cognitive theory. Recommendations to reduce stress and burnout included improving communication, addressing individual needs, and adopting supportive and inclusive leadership styles.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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