Date of Award

5-2006

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Counselor Education

Advisor

Dorothy Breen

Second Committee Member

Theodore Coladarci

Third Committee Member

William Davis

Abstract

Because of the nature of their work and their consistent exposure to clients with trauma histories, crisis clinicians may experience symptoms related to secondary traumatic stress (STS). The present study examined the association between personal and work-related factors and STS symptomatology. In addition, coping strategies and self-care behaviors were examined to determine which strategies and behaviors were associated with higher levels of distress. The present study was conducted with 130 crisis clinicians whose work at community mental health crisis centers involves both crisis hotline work and response to clients in acute crisis situations. Clinicians completed packets containing a Clinician Information Form, the Brief COPE (Carver, 1997), the Impact of Event Scale (IES; Horowitz, Wilner, and Alvarez, 1979), the Professional Quality of Life Scale: Compassion Satisfaction (CS), Burnout (BO), Compassion Fatigue / Secondary Trauma (CFIST) Subscales (Stamm, 2002), and a Self-care Behavior checklist developed specifically for the present study. Exploratory correlational analyses found significant associations for the personal factors of Personal Trauma History, Gender, Percentage of Trauma Survivors in Weekly Caseload, Years as a Crisis Worker, Years in the Mental Health Field, and Supervision Hours. There were no significant associations for Age, Educational Level, or Hours with any of the dependent variables and no personal or work-related factors were significantly correlated with IES Avoidance. With regard to coping strategies and self-care behaviors, results of the exploratory correlational analyses indicated that greater utilization of each of the "maladaptive" coping strategies was significantly associated with higher reports of Avoidant symptoms, Intrusive symptoms, Burnout, and CFIST. Unexpectedly, however, none of the "adaptive" coping strategies had inverse significant relationships with any of the dependent variables. In fact, the "adaptive" coping strategy Humor correlated significantly in a positive manner with Compassion Fatigue and Burnout. As expected, reported utilization of most of the "adaptive" strategies did have a statistically significant relationship with Compassion Satisfaction. This information is important not only for research purposes, but to also provide essential information to educators and supervisors, whose responsibility it is to best prepare these crisis clinicians for the important job they do.

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