Murdock, Jennifer L.


Helm, Heather M.

Committee Member

Guido, Florence M.

Committee Member

Gonzalez, David M.


Applied Psychology & Counselor Education


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





152 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


The purpose of this study was to identify the contributing factors of vicarious trauma among counseling professionals; more specifically this study explored the variables of a counselor's history of trauma, the type of trauma in their history, their gender and the number of clients on their caseloads with histories of trauma. A sample size of N=114 counseling professionals volunteered their participation in this study. Participants held master's degrees or higher in the fields of counseling, psychology, or clinical social work. Participants responded to questions on a demographics questionnaire and three additional assessment instruments: the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, the PTSD Screening and Diagnostic Scale, and the Trauma and Attachment Belief Scale. The following research questions were explored in this study: (1) does a relationship exist between a mental health professional's history of trauma, symptoms of PTSD, and their experience of vicarious trauma? (2) Is there a difference between the categorical type of trauma (e.g., natural disaster, intimate partner violence, child abuse, interpersonal violence, accident and death or illness) experienced by a counselor and their experience of VT? (3) Are there gender differences in the frequency with which VT is experienced? And (4) Is there a relationship between the number of clients with histories of trauma on a counseling professionals' caseload and their experience of VT? Results from this sample population indicate no significant relationship was found between a counselor's history of trauma and their experience of vicarious trauma. However, results did yield a significant relationship between a counselor's symptoms of PTSD and their experience of vicarious trauma in this sample. A Pearson correlation coefficient was used to identify a relationship. Results from this sample also found no difference among the various types of trauma in an individual's history as a contributing factor to vicarious trauma. A multivariate analysis of variance was used to identify if a difference existed between the types of trauma and no significant results were found. To determine if there was a difference between men and women and their experience of vicarious trauma, a t-test was used. No difference was found, male and female counselors appear to experience VT at the same rates. Finally, a correlation coefficient was used to identify if a relationship existed between a counseling professional's experience of vicarious trauma and the number of clients on their caseload with trauma histories. No relationship was found between these two variables in this sample population.

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