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The impact of reflective supervision on early childhood educators of at-risk children : fostering compassion satisfaction and reducing burnout

Brown, Laurel
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Counseling, Clinical & School Psychology
Degree Supervisor:
Maryam Kia-Keating
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Psychology, Early childhood education, Teacher education, Special education, and Mental health
Compassion Satisfaction
Reflective Supervision
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2016

The demands on teachers have increased over the years, particularly for those who work with low-income families at risk of homelessness. As job demands have increased, the need to understand how to better support teachers has become a focus of attention. The process of reflective supervision has been widely described in the literature as a way to support teachers professionally and personally. However, there is presently limited empirical evidence examining the intended effects of reflective supervision. The current study examined the implementation of reflective supervision in five therapeutic preschools where teachers are working with families with extremely low incomes, who have experienced or are at risk for homelessness, and many of their students exhibit emotional and behavioral problems and are being treated by a local community-based mental health agency for exposure to traumas, like domestic violence.

Mixed methods were used to understand preschool teachers' experiences of work related stress and compassion satisfaction, and how these factors may be impacted by reflective supervision. Participants included 37 teachers (36 females, 1 male) from five sites that were implementing reflective supervision. Of the 37 participants, 18 were in their first year of reflective supervision and 19 had received reflective supervision for 2-5 years. The sample was primarily Latino/a (73%) and 29% held a bachelor's degree. Participants completed questionnaires regarding their experience of compassion satisfaction, burnout, secondary traumatic stress, loss of satisfaction from teaching, competence, and support. In addition, 20 teachers participated in semi-structured interviews. The results suggest that teachers' perceived compassion satisfaction may act as a buffer against stress.

Further, time spent in reflective supervision may enhance compassion satisfaction and further act to protect teachers against some work related stressors. However, reflective supervision may not fully address stressors related to administration, which appear to be a major source of frustration for teachers. Implications and future directions will be discussed.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (189 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Laurel Brown
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