Well-being of South African psychologists : a mixed method study
This research study investigates the nature and extent of South African psychologists’ well-being in order to offer guidelines towards sustainable well-being for this population. Psychologists focus on the well-being of others, while their own well-being may be compromised by career typical challenges such as distress, isolation and feelings of anxiety. However, psychologists’ well-being is a prerequisite for sustaining their professional competence. These realities were explored as there is currently extremely limited research concerning South African psychologists and their well-being. The thesis consists of three sub-studies reported in three individual manuscripts. The first manuscript contains a qualitative account of the well-being of a group of South African psychologists, as evidenced through their experiences of meaning, positive affect and resilience. The study involved 14 participants. The findings indicated that participants experience competencies with respect to well-being, despite severe difficulties that are inherent to the profession of psychology and that translate into contests. The participants reported subjective perceptions of well-being and ascribed these feelings to their experiences of meaning, positive affect and resilience. The second manuscript reports on a mixed methods study. The incidence of well-being of South African psychologists was integrated with their experiences of well-being, meaning, resilience and positive affect. A random sample of 1 980 psychologists was selected and questionnaires were posted to these psychologists. A total of 279 completed questionnaires were returned. Findings indicated that 93.9% of participants experienced flourishing and 6.1% experienced languishing. However, although psychologists appear to experience high levels of well-being it should be remembered that well-being is not static. It is thus important that applicable facets and processes be developed to ensure the continuation of those high levels of well-being. Guidelines for the design of a well-being programme aimed at ensuring the sustainable well-being of South African psychologists are therefore included as the final section of this manuscript. The aim of the third study (which is presented in the third manuscript) was to offer guidelines for sustaining and amplifying the well-being of South African psychologists. Wellbeing requires intentional effort and therefore, conducting research and applying research recommendations pertaining to well-being is necessary to assist with achieving and sustaining high levels of well-being of people, including the well-being of psychologists in South Africa. The study considered enabling mechanisms and warning signs in relation to the well-being of South African psychologists. In this way, the guidelines avoided embracing a polyanna approach in which life problems are ignored, which is consistent with a positive psychology approach. The guidelines were developed utilising data that was gathered during the first two studies and were supplemented with existing literature. The guidelines are intended to ensure the development and maintenance of well-being in South African psychologists. The primary contribution of this study relates to the generation of qualitative data that can assist with triangulation and hypotheses development in relation to research about psychologists in South-Africa. Secondly, the data provided the first quantitative insight into the well-being of South African psychologists. Finally, the guidelines may assist South African psychologists in the enduring fortification of positive human health and well-being.
- Humanities