Date of Completion


Embargo Period



burnout, infant, mental health, practitioner, reflective supervision, secondary traumatic stress

Major Advisor

Dr. JoAnn Robinson

Associate Advisor

Dr. Preston Britner

Associate Advisor

Dr. Edna Brown

Associate Advisor

Dr. Laura Mauldin

Field of Study

Human Development and Family Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This mixed methods investigation explores work-related stress and employee well-being in infant mental health (IMH) practitioners and supervisors. The question of how reflective supervision can be integrated into infant-family serving systems to contain the emotional strains and secondary trauma of direct practice with vulnerable young children and families is gaining traction in the empirical literature (Barron & Paradis, 2010; O’Rourke, 2011; Osofsky, 2009; Shea, 2018; Watson, Gattis, & Neilssen, 2014). However, the relationship between organizational supports and self-care practices in managing work-related stress and promoting employee well-being has yet to be examined in the infant mental health literature.

Two studies were developed to: 1) examine the lived experience of the IMH clinical practitioner and professional/personal self-care practices identified as effective in managing work-related stress, 2) probe the broader IMH workforce about organizational supports and individual self-care practices that may promote management of work-related stress and employee well-being. Inductive, thematic analysis of qualitative data centered around four key themes: individual coping and self-care, reflective supervision as professional self-care, organizational supports facilitating self-care, and barriers to self-care.

The quantitative investigation, surveyed a national sample of 280 infant-family practitioners across varying job titles and sectors. Results of this study yielded findings suggesting significant small to moderate correlations between organizational supports (i.e., structural and relational features) and work-related stress. Results of both investigations raise important questions about the interdependence of individual and organizational factors that may contribute to employee well-being.