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Clinical Social Work Journal


From fear of contracting the virus, isolation from physical distancing, to navigating lifework balance, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to leave long-lasting psychosocial impacts on many. Shared trauma refers to similar psychological reactions to an extraordinary community event when experienced by both the clinicians and clients. We examined the experiences mong mental health clinicians in Canada and the United States (n = 196) in this online survey study during the second phase of the pandemic (Spring 2021). In addition to using traditional survey items (e.g., demographics, scales, and short answers), we also used video-recorded Simulated Clients (SC; i.e., professional actors) as a novel method to elicit the participants’ assessment of the SCs and the psychosocial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using shared trauma as a theoretical framework, we analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative results suggested that although these mental health clinicians certainly reported experiencing psychosocial impacts of the pandemic themselves, these shared experiences with client and general populations did not greatly impact how they understood the SCs. Qualitative results helped further contextualize the clinicians’ own personal and professional lives. Implications for clinical practice and further research related to shared trauma are discussed.


Clinical social workers, COVID-19, Mixed-methods, Online survey, Pandemic, Shared trauma, Simulation






© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2022


Archived as published. Open access paper.

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