Title

Prevention of Vicarious Trauma: Are Coping Strategies Enough?

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2012

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Lance Peterson

Abstract

Social workers are increasingly being called on to assist a greater proportion of clients who have experienced trauma. As a result clinicians are exposed to greater chances of developing vicarious trauma. The clinician may experience higher levels of stress, unwanted/distressing images of trauma material, sleep disturbance, and anxiety (Cunningham, 2004). Researchers have found that the signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma can decrease if the clinician uses commonly recommended coping strategies to help control the unwanted disturbances of working with traumatized clients (Bober, Regehr, 2005). These coping strategies include leisure, self-care, supervision, and spirituality activities. A quantitative survey was sent to 450 social workers in the metro area with a license level of LGSW or LICSW. The purpose of they survey was to investigate the effectiveness of commonly recommended coping strategies at reducing the signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma. A total of 62 surveys were returned and the data was carefully analyzed. The literature reviewed and the data obtained from the data analysis contained similar findings. The findings found that leisure, self-care, and spirituality activities all had a strong relationship for reducing a clinician’s score on the quality of life scale. Supervision activities had a weak relationship between time spent engaging in supervision activities and a participant’s score on the quality of life scale. To date, most research has focused on what individuals can do to address vicarious trauma. Further research should explore what can be done at the organizational level to help reduce the signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma.

Keywords

vicarious trauma, coping strategies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.