Kimberly Patterson-Hyatt, Psy.D., is a 2016 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle

Dissertation Committee

Mark Russell, Ph.D., ABPP, Committee Chair

Bill Heusler, Psy.D., Committee Member

Colin Ward, Ph.D., Committee Member


Mental Illness, Psychological Distress, Psychologists, Treatment, Barriers, Remedies, Interventions, Psychiatric Disorders, Substance Use, Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, Systems, Education, Self-Care, Personal Therapy, Denial

Document Type


Publication Date



This study completed a critical review of psychologists’ mental health by developing a conceptual analysis based on the current empirical literature of the mental health needs of clinical psychologists. Distress among psychologists was explored by examining the following domains: (a) examining the prevalence of mental illness and psychological distress that exist among them, (b) examining the barriers they encounter to seeking treatment when experiencing this distress, and (c) reviewing current interventions and integrating remedies for access to mental health care that best meets psychologists’ needs. Results included several themes within each domain shaping a contextual picture of some of the challenges faced by psychologists and gaps that need to still be further addressed. The following five themes were found within the domain of lifetime prevalence of mental illness and psychological distress among psychologists: psychiatric disorders reported reaching at approximately 81%, substance use (primarily ethanol) vacillating from 1% to 70%, psychological distress ranging from 10% to 74%, impairment varying from 4.6% to 63%, as well as burnout and compassion fatigue found stretching to 80%. There dominant barriers in place that created obstacles for psychologists to access appropriate and effective mental health services, which included: limited insight, education and prevention strategies lacking, keeping distress secretive, institutions of psychology being unsupportive to the distressed psychologists, utilizing reactive interventions versus preventative ones, lacking evidence-based research on psychologists’ distress along with interventions that remediate stress, an unsupportive and avoidant culture when dealing with psychological distress, and limited psychotherapy resources. There are at least six suggestions identified for intervening with psychologists facing barriers to accessing care, which included: educating and increasing awareness, improving systemic influences, utilizing self-care, developing a culture of support, increasing empirical research, and utilizing personal therapy and treatment programs. Inconsistencies were found in the literature, which harness poor integration between prevalence, barriers, and interventions. Particular areas discussed included: empirical research, personal therapy, ranges in prevalence, shame, and self-care. Limitations of the study and areas for further research were discussed. The electronic version of this dissertation is at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Kimberly Patterson-Hyatt, 2016