Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Indirect trauma syndrome: Empirical validation of a model that synthesizes secondary and vicarious trauma
by Gottfried, Victoria M., Ph.D., University of Louisville, 2010, 229; 3437663
Abstract (Summary)

Empirical evidence has established that experiencing high magnitude stressors may result in traumatic stress reactions, sometimes of long duration. In the 1990s scholarly work began pertaining to traumatic stress that may result from working therapeutically with traumatized clients. Two distinct bodies of scholarship have emerged: secondary trauma (using the theoretical framework of posttraumatic stress disorder) and vicarious trauma (focusing primarily on cognitive schema change stemming from assimilation of traumatic events). Empirical studies have investigated a number of risk and protective factors associated with secondary and vicarious trauma.

The purpose of this dissertation was two-fold: to propose and test a conceptual model that synthesizes secondary and vicarious trauma, suggesting that indirect trauma is an over-arching construct encompassing both, and to investigate the risk and protective factors associated with these phenomena. Thus, the first question was. How are secondary and vicarious trauma related?

The second question was: What risk and protective factors are associated with secondary and vicarious trauma?

Data were gathered at a conference sponsored by Kentucky's rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters. The data collection tool asked about demographic and job information, and other predictor variables, and assessed secondary trauma, and vicarious trauma. Structural equation modeling and multiple regression analysis were used to analyze the data.

The results indicated that secondary and vicarious trauma are correlated, however, the existence of an overarching construct was neither confirmed nor disconfirmed. Length of time spent working with traumatized clients and social support were found to be positively associated with both secondary and vicarious trauma, while personal history of trauma was found to be negatively associated with them.

These results provide sufficient evidence to merit further investigation of the relationship between secondary and vicarious trauma. They reaffirm that psychological trauma may be an occupational hazard for the many people who work with traumatized clients. Recommendations are made for social work education, policy, employers, and social workers who work with traumatized clients.

Indexing (document details)
School: University of Louisville
School Location: United States -- Kentucky
Source: DAI-A 72/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Social work, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Compassion fatigue, Counselor distress, Psychological trauma, Secondary trauma, Vicarious trauma
Publication Number: 3437663
ISBN: 978-1-124-37993-7
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