Resident Advisors React: Autoethnographic Reflections on High-Intensity Situations

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Merrill, Brenna A
self care; secondary trauma; student affairs; autoethnography; residential life; student leader; Higher Education; Psychology; Social Work
paper description
Resident Advisors (RAs) are paraprofessional peer leaders who are trained to respond to high-intensity incidents. Upon witnessing a crisis situation, I found it difficult to reflect and maintain my own personal wellness. The intent of this research has been to learn of and to give voice to the multiple ways in which RAs respond to such scenarios.Utilizing autoethnography, I incorporate my experience with the perspectives of my coworkers and multidisciplinary literature. Seven current RAs, who had self-identified experiencing such an incident, volunteered to be interviewed. These narratives are embodied in the text in order to establish a dialogue between researcher, participants, and readers.The data reflected here synthesizes the reactions of eight different RAs.Given the qualitative methodology, broad generalizations cannot be made. However, it is evident that we exhibit helpful and inhibiting behaviors as a means to be personally well after professionally engaging in highly emotional experiences.