Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


The purpose of this study was to explore how working with clients who have experienced the specific trauma of parental childhood sexual abuse impacts the therapist. Most of the literature on vicarious traumatization dose not differentiate between trauma-specific affects of working with particular populations of trauma survivors. The sample for this qualitative study was comprised of twelve licensed clinicians who had worked with a minimum of five survivors of parental childhood sexual. The major findings of the study were that there are trauma-specific risks for vicarious traumatization when working with survivors of parental childhood sexual abuse because of the degree of intensity of rapidly shifting emotions that are evoked when doing this work; and not the breath of emotions, except for the trauma-specific emotions connected to parental betrayal. These participants punctuated the need for consultation, supervision, and a range self care options as requisite supports to do the work. Recommendations include the need to benchmark minimum standards of support and self care for people doing this work that can be standardized throughout the industry. Participants remained positively connected and committed to the work despite the challenges, because of a sense of fulfillment from feeling that they are doing important and necessary work, and an affectionate attachment to their clients.


iv, 85 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 74-78).