Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Salina M. Renninger; Kurt Gehlert


Traumatic events were once considered rare, but within the past few decades, trauma experiences have increasingly been recognized as a more common occurrence. Thus, clinicians are more likely to have trauma-related caseloads than previously (Courtois & Gold, 2009). Recent bachelor graduates who are new to graduate school in psychology and to working directly with clients are likely to work with people who have experienced some type of trauma. Secondary and vicarious trauma is a risk related to working with people who have endured a traumatic event. Clinicians who are new to the field and clinicians who have larger caseloads of clients who are struggling from trauma have a greater chance of developing secondary and vicarious trauma (Newell & MacNeil, 2010). A majority of graduate programs do not require or provide a course that focuses on secondary and vicarious trauma. Without the knowledge and awareness of these conditions, students are at a risk for developing secondary and vicarious trauma (Harrison & Westwood, 2009). A need exists for students to receive training in vicarious trauma, secondary trauma, and self-care early on in their training, especially prior to practicum placements. This project will discuss a 7-week curriculum for master’s level graduate students in their first year of training. The curriculum incorporates in-depth discussions and education about vicarious and secondary trauma. As a result of participating in the curriculum, students will enhance their self-awareness skills through mindfulness exercises and reflective journaling assignments. Students will also begin to explore their own reactions to trauma-related events after viewing brief clips from the news and reflecting on their thoughts and reactions to these clips. This course will teach students to better protect their health and overall well-being as they begin working directly with clients on practicum. It is expected that participation in such a course will be a protective factor against the development of secondary and vicarious trauma.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.