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Factors Influencing Vicarious Traumatization for Therapists of Survivors of Sexual Victimization

NCJ Number
Journal of Trauma Practice Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: 2003 Pages: 47-60
Robyn L. Trippany; S. Allen Wilcoxon; Jamie F. Satcher
Date Published
This study examined variables predictive of vicarious traumatization for therapists treating adult survivors of sexual victimization versus therapists treating child survivors of sexual victimization.
Vicarious traumatization (VT) can be a pervasive condition among therapists who treat trauma survivors. As such, it is important to understand the variables that are predictive of VT in order to identify therapists most at risk. The article begins with a brief review of VT, followed by a description of the current study. One hundred and fourteen female sexual trauma therapists, who were identified through employment at rape crisis counseling centers and children’s advocacy centers, completed survey packets that contained the Traumatic Stress Institute Beliefs Scale, the Spiritual Involvement and Beliefs Scale, and a demographic questionnaire. Variables under examination included both personal and practice variables, such as spirituality, personal trauma history, career longevity, caseload, and peer supervision. Results of regression analysis indicated that therapist’s personal trauma history was a statistically significant predictor of VT for therapists treating child survivors of sexual abuse. No statistically significantly variables were identified as being predictive of VT for therapists treatment of adult survivors of sexual trauma. These results are inconsistent with previous research that has identified significant relationships between caseload, career longevity, and the experience of VT in therapists. The implications of this study may be that there are no predictive profiles to help therapists identify whether they are at heightened risk for developing VT. Tables, references