Counselor Perceptions of the Efficacy of Training and Implementation of Self-Care Strategies Related to Trauma Work

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Culver, Leslie Midtbo
trauma; vicarious traumatization; self-care; wellness; trauma; vicarious traumatization; self-care; wellness
thesis / dissertation description
Various forms of trauma are regularly reported across the spectrum of counseling settings and the potential negative psychological effects on counselors who are repeatedly exposed to traumatic material are well documented. However, many researchers suggest that vicarious traumatization can be prevented and mitigated with personal and professional self-care strategies. The American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics indicates that counselors have a professional responsibility to engage in self-care activities, as efforts to ensure the psychological health of counselors will have a direct effect on their ability to help clients. The purpose of this mixed-method, descriptive, correlational research was to explore what types of educational preparation and training counselors have received regarding self-care and what types of self-care strategies counselors are using. The efficacy of those training methods and self-care strategies when implemented were also measured, from the perspective of the participants. The Self-Care Training and Implementation Questionnaire (STIQ), a 19-item, structured and semi-structured questionnaire developed for this research, was electronically sent to 3000 randomly selected members of ACA, resulting in 310 responses, 286 of which were deemed appropriate for inclusion. Analysis included descriptive analyses (quantitative data) and content and theme analyses (qualitative data). The results of this study indicated that counselors recognized the value of self-care and participated in activities that promoted a healthy lifestyle and mitigated stress, thus working toward a balance that fostered effective work performance. However, the findings demonstrated that most counselors do not receive formal self-care training and self-care has been an endeavor pursued independently, outside of education and work settings. Implications for counselor education, training, policy and research are discussed.