The effects of vicarious traumatization : reflections of an integrated narrative exploration with three trauma counselors

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Thomas-Mitton, Jean Ella
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2001
As a female counselor working with individuals who have been physically, emotionally, and sexually abused, I have become aware of, and affected by, the issue of vicarious traumatization (VT) in the lives of counselors and other helping professionals who deal on a repeated basis with those experiencing trauma and abuse. This research study in the Faculty of Education has arisen from my personal practice preference for a narrative approach to counselling. In this exploration of the manner in which counselors' lives are changed in their work with trauma-related issues, I present an integrated narrative model of vicarious traumatization. Three female trauma counselors respond to three narrative VT vignettes I have constructed, and reflect on stories of their own relationship to vicarious traumatization over the course of their professional practice. By researching and developing these narratives, and sharing them with other counselors, I have increased my understanding of vicarious traumatization and of the effectiveness of a narrative approach in exploring this topic with other counselors. Through this research, my own relationship to vicarious trauma has undergone a transition. Further, this exploration of narrative as a tool for self-reflection, self-awareness, and re-storying professional practice draws together branches of the narrative tree of knowledge: Feminist narrative writings stress the importance of women developing their own voice through writing their own experience; narrative psychology acknowledges the manner in which language maps reality and invites us to explore alternative realities in the service of healing; narrative therapy invites us to explore our lives more fully by honoring all who have contributed to them; narrative research in education urges us to attend to continued professional development in the form of increased self-knowledge. The conversations with other counselors serve to deepen my own knowledge about the impact of trauma work on me, and on others who perform similar work. This research contributes to existing works that explore narrative ways that professionals can come to know themselves, their identities, and their practice, and to teach that knowledge to each other.
viii, 161 leaves ; 28 cm.
Counselors -- Job stress , Counselors -- Mental health , Counseling , Dissertations, Academic