Burnout among psychologists: The Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL)

I’ve heard from a lot of mental health professionals about times that they’ve been close to burnout, and I want to take the time to share with you how to measure your own professional wellbeing. You’re probably used to administering questionnaires to clients, and I reckon it’s also a good idea to check in on yourself occasionally. The Professional Quality of Life Scale is a new addition to NovoPsych and ideal as a self evaluation tool.

Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL)

Used with: Anyone in a helping profession (psychologist, nurse, teacher, first responders, social services workers)
Measures: Compassion Fatigue, Work satisfaction, Burnout and Secondary Trauma
Helpful for: Checking in on yourself a few times a year to see how the stress of work is impacting you.

As a concept, “professional quality of life” are the feelings one has in relation to one’s work as a helper. Both the positive and negative aspects of doing one’s job influences work satisfaction.  The ProQOL has three sub-scales: 

  • Compassion Satisfaction (pleasure you derive from being able to do your work well)
  • Burnout (exhaustion, frustration, anger and depression related to work)
  • Secondary Traumatic Stress (feeling fear in relation to work‐related primary or secondary trauma) 

So I’d like to invite you to take a moment to reflect on how you’re doing professionally, by:
1. Logging in to NovoPsych here
2. Creating a client under your own name
3. Administer the Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL) to yourself
4. Take a moment to reflect on your results. Consider what aspects of your work are causing you stress. Are there support structures that you can enlist? Have you been keeping up with your self-care routines? Do you need a break?

One thing I’ve setup for myself is to schedule NovoPsych to send me an email every month so that I can check in on my professional well-being as well as other aspects of personal wellbeing (DASS-21 and Valuing Questionnaire). I’d encourage you to do that same. 

The ProQOL is particularly useful for professionals to self-monitor their satisfaction and as a prompt for self-care. In addition service managers seeking to facilitate staff wellbeing can use the ProQOL to track professional quality of life over time to help inform workload, leave and support decisions.

As mental health professionals we’re often systematically tracking the wellbeing of our clients, but I hope you’ll invest time in looking after yourself too. Because your wellbeing is worth the time. 

Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)

Here at NovoPsych we’ve just added a new assessment to the test library to assist in the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  While the prevalence of ASD is only 0.7% in the community, among patients presenting for mental health services the prevalence is 10 times that (7.8%, Fraser et al, 2011). This statistic shows how important it is to consider Autism in general mental health settings. We hope the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and NovoPsych’s advanced metrics helps with screening and diagnosis.

Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)

The AQ is designed for adults and adolescents aged 16 years and over with normal intellectual functioning to screen for Autism Spectrum Disorder (Ehlers et al, 1999). The AQ is intended to make up a component of a thorough diagnostic assessment.  It measures five symptom clusters important in understanding the profile of strengths and weaknesses for individuals with Autism:
– social skill deficits 
– attention switching problems
– attention to detail
– communication difficulties
– imagination deficits

Here is an example of the 50 self-report questions
When administered through NovoPsych, scores will be automatically calculated and graphed, including enhanced metrics. Data for gender related norms are provided as a percentile rank, with a diagnostic cut-off score included (Baron-Cohen et al., 2001).

The sample results below shows a respondent’s percentiles compared to people who have been diagnosed with ASD. This individual’s Total AQ percentile score is about 50, indicating that their scores are typical of someone with ASD. Higher scores on each sub-scale indicate more neurodivergence.  For example, compared to others with ASD, these scores show few problems in Imagination (a percentile of 5 means they have less problems with imagination than 95% of people with ASD.)  On the other hand, scores show a percentile of 90 on Attention to Details, indicating significant neurodivergence in that area.
 We hope you find the AQ useful with your adult clients. If you’re seeking to do an initial ASD screener with children, NovoPsych also includes the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ), which can be used with children as young as 6.

To start using the AQ, we’d recommend practicing by logging into your NovoPsych account and administering the assessment to a dummy client. 

Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Skinner, R., Martin, J., & Clubley, E. (2001). The autism-spectrum quotient (AQ): Evidence from asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism, males and females, scientists and mathematicians. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 31(1), 5-17.

Ehlers, S., Gillberg, C., & Wing, L. (1999). A screening questionnaire for Asperger syndrome and other high-functioning autism spectrum disorders in school age children. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 29(2), 129-141.

Fraser, R., Angus, B., Cotton, S., Gentle, E., Allott, K., & Thompson, A. (2011). Prevalence of autism spectrum conditions in a youth mental health service. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry45(5), 426-426.