Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Relationship Between Vicarious Trauma and Sexual Desire Among Behavioral Health Clinicians
by Branson, Dana C., Ph.D., Northcentral University, 2011, 166; 3458587
Abstract (Summary)

Vicarious trauma refers to the psychological changes that can occur in behavioral health clinicians (BHC) as a result of joining with clients in an empathic relationship. Vicarious trauma is a significant occupational hazard for BHCs, with potentially negative effects on the quality of personal life and interpersonal relationships. The constructivist self-development theory (CSDT) implies a relationship between vicarious trauma and sexual desire; however, research had not confirmed this relationship. Furthermore, previous research has revealed methodological limitations demonstrated by inconsistencies in findings concerning key moderating variables. Therefore, the purpose of this quantitative correlational study was to assess the relationship between vicarious trauma (Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale) and sexual desire (Hurlbert Index of Sexual Desire). In addition, the following covariates were assessed: years of professional experience, sexual trauma history, gender, and age. Internet-based surveys were collected over a 6-week period. The study population consisted of 163 BHCs volunteers from a professional association in Missouri. Years of professional experience, sexual trauma history, gender, and age were computed as covariates. Bivariate correlations and multiple linear regression were utilized. A significant inverse relationship was found between vicarious trauma and sexual desire, r = −0.24, p = .002, r² = 5.7%, however, the coefficient of determination was small. Additionally, vicarious trauma was found to be the strongest predictor of sexual desire over and above all four covariates: years of professional experience (beta = −.25, p = .002), sexual trauma history (beta = −.24, p = .002), gender (beta = −.25, p = .001), and age (beta = −.25, p = .001). Although the amount of variance is small, implications for practice include reinforcement of the CSDT predicting decreased sexual desire as a possible negative outcome of vicarious trauma. The CSDT should be modified to predict decreased sexual desire as a possible consequence of vicarious trauma. The limitations of the study fall into four broad categories: study design, time of the study, study sample, and the small coefficient of determination. Future research would benefit from replicating the study, accounting for the presence of extraneous and confounding variables, and using a mixed methods design.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Weigand, Daniel
School: Northcentral University
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Clinicians, Compassion fatigue, Constructive self-development theory, Secondary traumatic stress, Sexual desire, Vicarious trauma
Publication Number: 3458587
ISBN: 9781124664088
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