Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Sexual abuse victims-Counseling of, Social work with adult child sexual abuse victims-Psychological aspects, Psychotherapists-Mental health, Secondary traumatic stress-Prevention, Vicarious traumatization, Sexual violence clinicians, Protective factors, Mitigating trauma


The purpose of this study was to explore sexual violence clinicians' views on protective factors for Vicarious Traumatization. The study sought to understand not only how participants have been affected by conducting therapy with survivors of sexual violence, but also how they and their colleagues are able to maintain their well-being. In-person and telephone interviews were conducted with twelve licensed clinicians whose caseloads are comprised primarily of survivors of sexual violence. Participants were asked about personal and professional effects of doing clinical work with survivors, intentional practices and innate factors that they find helpful for their well-being, and their motivations for continuing in this work. Findings suggest that sexual violence clinicians do experience symptoms of Vicarious Traumatization and are able to draw on numerous factors to maintain well-being. Protective factors identified were: Coping Skills and Self-Care, Professional Factors, Personal Qualities, and Transformation and Meaning Making. The study's findings yield insights to be explored in future research, including the possibility that there is a common trajectory with regard to Vicarious Traumatization – from initial discomfort and on through learning to protect oneself. The study's findings have implications for clinicians, agencies, supervisors, and educators.




iii, 95 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 87-90)