The well-being of non-professional counsellors in South Africa / Jeanine Pires-Putter
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The utilization of non-professional counsellors is increasing as the number of HIV-positive South Africans increases, together with the levels of criminal violence in South Africa. Non-professional counsellors work with people that are distressed and counsel people that are coping with trauma. The promotion and protection of counsellors' well-being is vital. Counsellors have to attentively guide people and avoid or alleviate feelings of stress and prevent burnout caused by the counselling process. People who work in human services are more likely to experience stress due to close involvement and interaction with other people. Emotional intelligence and coping can influence the well-being (burnout and engagement) of non-professional counsellors. Emotional intelligence may be crucial in helping counsellors work with different people and encourage their well-being. It is believed to assist in the conceptualisation of psychological well-being and can be applied as a means to successfully cope with demands and pressures of the environment. The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between emotional intelligence, burnout, engagement and coping among non-professional counsellors in Gauteng and the North-West Province. A cross-sectional survey design was used. A non-probability convenience sample was taken from various institutions employing non-professional counsellors in Gauteng and the North-West Province (7V=172). The Maslach Burnout Inventory, The Emotional Intelligence Scale (SEIS), Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) and The COPE Questionnaire (COPE) were administered. Cronbach alpha coefficients, Spearman-product correlation coefficients, Manovas (to determine differences in demographical groups) and Multiple Regression analyses were used to analyse the data. Principal component analysis resulted in a two factor model for emotional intelligence, namely: emotion appraisal and emotion utilisation. Regarding burnout, a two factor model was also extracted namely: emotional exhaustion and cynicism. The factor that was found for engagement was work engagement. A four factor model was found for coping namely: approach coping, avoidance, turning to religion and seeking emotional support. The correlation coefficients indicated that emotional Exhaustion and avoidance were positively related to cynicism. Emotion appraisal was positively related to emotion utilisation, work engagement, approach coping and seeking emotional support. Emotion utilisation was positively related to approach coping and seeking emotional support. Furthermore, approach coping and seeking emotional support as coping strategies were positively related to each other. Turning to religion as coping strategy was positively related to seeking emotional support. Lastly, work engagement was positively related to emotion appraisal. MANOVA analyses were used to determine any differences in the experience of emotional intelligence, coping, cynicism and emotional exhaustion indicated the following: No differences in emotional intelligence levels, cynicism, emotional exhaustion and work engagement could be found between gender and language groups, education levels and province. However, differences in coping strategies based on language groups and provinces were found. African language groups use avoidance and seeking emotional support more as coping strategies than Afrikaans language groups. Participants in the North-West province use avoidance more as a coping strategy than participants in Gauteng. Multiple Regression analyses showed that emotional intelligence and coping predicted 16 % of the variance in work engagement, 17% of the variance explained in cynicism and 11% of the variance in emotional exhaustion. Recommendations were made for non-professional counsellors and for future research purposes.
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