Date of Award

Fall 10-1-2015

Degree Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Counselor Education

First Advisor

Rafael Outland

Abstract

Vicarious trauma is a serious problem because it can be severe enough that a therapist may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (Bride, 2007). If therapists do not get help to prevent or treat compassion fatigue and burnout, there is a high likelihood that they will leave the field, which is a tremendous loss of resources (Harrison & Westwood, 2009). If they continue their work while impaired it is unethical and harmful to clients (Stalker & Harvey, 2002). If researchers gain insight on how therapists maintain compassion satisfaction while working with trauma, this could potentially reverse the effects of burnout and compassion fatigue. The purpose of the present study was to gain awareness of the lived experiences of therapists who work with clients who have faced trauma to discover negative or positive consequences that influence therapists work and personal lives. I had the following objectives: 1) To learn what factors contribute to an increase or decrease of both positive and negative consequences that counselors experience from working with trauma; 2) To determine what consequences affect counselor’s well-being both at work and in their personal lives. 3) To determine what counselors do to cope with any adverse effects reported. Eleven therapists working in a large outpatient mental health clinic completed qualitative interviews and open-ended questionnaires. Findings supported evidence of burnout and compassion satisfaction while results of secondary trauma were varied. Future research should focus on the implications for therapists by analyzing methods used to train and support therapists.

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