Compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary traumatic stress in UK therapists

PhD Thesis

Sodeke-Gregson, E. 2011. Compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary traumatic stress in UK therapists. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Department of Applied Psychology
AuthorsSodeke-Gregson, E.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Section A: A literature review was conducted to identify the negative and positive impact that working with adult trauma clients has on therapists. Key theoretical concepts and possible causal mechanisms are summarised and the research evidence supporting these concepts is reviewed. The key limitations to the extant literature and future research are discussed.
Section B: Background: Therapists who work with trauma clients are impacted by this work both positively and negatively. However, most studies have tended to focus on the negative impact of the work, the quantitative evidence has been inconsistent, and the research has primarily been conducted outside the UK.
Method: An online questionnaire was developed which used a standardised measure to assess compassion satisfaction (CS), burnout, and secondary traumatic stress (STS) in 253 UK therapists working with adult trauma clients.
Results: Whilst the majority of therapists scored within the average range for CS and burnout, 70% of scores indicated that they were at high risk of STS. Maturity, time spent engaging in R&D activities, and a higher perceived supportiveness of management and supervision predicted higher potential for CS. Youth and a lower perceived supportiveness of management predicted higher risk of burnout. Higher risk of STS was predicted in therapists engaging in more individual supervision and self-care activities, as well as those who had a personal trauma history.
Discussion: These results are discussed in light of previous research. Of particular note is that exposure to trauma stories did not significantly predict STS scores as suggested by STS theory. Contextual and methodological limitations and ideas for future research are highlighted.
Section C: A critical appraisal of the research process is summarised which answers the four set questions. A final personal reflection is also given.

KeywordsCompassion satisfaction; Burnout; Secondary traumatic stress; Vicarious traumatisation; Compassion fatigue; Trauma; Professional Quality of Life scale; Online questionnaire
Publication process dates
Deposited31 Oct 2011
SubmittedJul 2011
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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