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NCJ Number: 165892 Find in a Library
Title: Vicarious Trauma: The Effects on Female Counselors of Working With Sexual Violence Survivors
Journal: Psychology of Women Quarterly  Volume:19  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1995)  Pages:49-64
Author(s): L J Schauben; P A Frazier
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 16
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The primary purpose of this study was to assess the effects on counselors of working with sexual violence survivors.
Abstract: Questionnaires were sent to all members of an organization of women psychologists and to sexual violence counselors centers in a midwestern State. A total of 148 useable questionnaires were analyzed (118 female psychologists and 30 female sexual violence counselors). Participants ranged in age from 21 to 69 years old, with a mean age of 44 years. Participants were asked a series of questions about the nature and extent of their counseling work with sexual violence survivors. Information was also obtained on counselors' victimization history, psychological functioning, and coping strategies. Included in the measure of psychological functioning was a question about the extent to which respondents were currently experiencing "vicarious trauma." "Vicarious trauma" was defined as "the enduring psychological consequences for therapists of exposure to the traumatic experiences of victim clients (e.g., nightmares, heightened fear, and increased feelings of vulnerability)." Findings show that counselors who had a higher percentage of survivors in their caseload reported more disrupted beliefs (particularly about the goodness of other people), more symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, and more self-reported vicarious trauma. Symptomatology was not related to counselors' own history of victimization. Qualitative data about the difficult and enjoyable aspects of working with survivors also were obtained, along with data on the strategies used by counselors to cope with work-related stress. The discussion suggests that the agencies that sponsor such counseling provide the time and resources for counselors to address the negative consequence of working with sexual assault survivors. Further, there is a need for professional training on sexual violence, particularly child sexual abuse. Further, the data suggest the need for more systemic societal changes, given that one of the most difficult aspects of working with survivors is dealing with injustices in the legal system and the inadequacies of mental health coverage. 5 tables and 14 references
Main Term(s): Sexual assault victims
Index Term(s): Burnout syndrome; Counseling training; Counselors; Work attitudes
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