Compassion Satisfaction Among Social Work Practitioners: The Role of Work-Life Balance


social work practitioners, compassion satisfaction, work–life balance, work autonomy, emotional intelligence


Previous research has established that social work practitioners are especially vulnerable to work-related psychological distress and burnout due to the high-stress nature of the profession, yet less research has focused on examining factors are associated with social worker retention. Emerging research on compassion satisfaction suggests that this factor could mitigate professional burnout, yet there is a gap in research focusing explicitly on examining compassion satisfaction among social workers. To address this gap in knowledge, this quantitative study collected survey data on practicing social workers who were alumni from a large southeastern university (n = 120) to examine individual and organizational factors associated with compassion satisfaction. Multiple regression analyses revealed that higher levels of emotional intelligence, perceived work autonomy, and perceived work–life balance were associated with an increase in compassion satisfaction among experienced, licensed social work practitioners. Findings have implications for how social work employers can promote compassion satisfaction through cultivating emotional intelligence among practitioners, allowing social workers autonomy in decision making, and providing supportive work environments. Recommended directions for future research include longitudinal studies with large sample sizes that expound research on compassion satisfaction by examining the role of additional factors, such as client population, job role characteristics, and supervisor support.

Original Publication Citation

Junghee Bae, Porter F. Jennings, Christi P. Hardeman, Eunhye Kim, Megan Lee, Tenesha Littleton & Sherinah Saasa (2020) Compassion Satisfaction Among Social Work Practitioners: The Role of Work–Life Balance, Journal of Social Service Research, 46:3, 320-330.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Social Service Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor