This article examines research into how teachers experience compassion satisfaction, secondary traumatic stress (STS), and burnout, as well as if the most common measurement models need to be expanded to include additional salient constructs for educators.
The majority of children living in the USA have experienced at least one adverse experience. Long term, negative psychological, behavioral, and physical health consequences for students are associated with exposure to traumatic experiences. What is less well understood is how students’ exposure to traumatic events may impact the lives and work of educators who serve them. Educators receive little training or support to cope with the stressors associated with their direct work with youth exposed to trauma. There is a critical need to understand the psychological and emotional consequences of working with students who have experienced trauma as teachers’ own emotional well-being influences the quality of education they provide to students. Although research with other helping professionals has identified both positive and negative effects of working with individuals exposed to trauma for other helping professionals, such research with teachers is rare. The current study design includes both concurrent and sequential mixed method processes to examine how teachers experience compassion satisfaction, secondary traumatic stress (STS), and burnout. Additionally, we examine whether the most common measurement model needs to be expanded to include additional salient constructs for educators. Mixed methods analyses demonstrate that the most common measurement model does not fit well for the samples of educators, and educators have unique experiences with the constructs of STS, burnout, compassion satisfaction, and emotional well-being. Understanding the strengths and vulnerabilities for teachers working with students exposed to trauma will inform the accurate and efficient measurement of constructs unique to this population. (Publisher abstract provided)