Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology


Clinicians repeated exposure to clients who have a history of traumatic experiences can lead to vicarious traumatization (VT), which is the potential for clinicians to experience negative consequences such as changes in their sense of self and worldview (McCann & Pearlman, 1990). Experiencing VT negatively impacts the clinician’s professional identity and counseling work with clients (Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995a, 1995b; Saakvitne & Pearlman, 1996). Having an awareness of VT is a first step in protecting oneself from experiencing the potential consequences of counseling clients who have experienced trauma. Given this, it seems relevant to understand what clinicians-in-training know about VT. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to assess beginning clinicians’ awareness and understanding of VT. To address this issue the researcher posed the following two questions: (a) What is the level of awareness of VT in clinicians-in-training? and (b) What is the impact of a VT training program on the ability of clinicians-in-training to recognize VT in others? To address these research questions, a multiple case study method was used. Participants’ awareness of VT and its associated symptoms, risk factors and impact were assessed before and after they attended a psychoeducational workshop on VT. Several sources of data were collected: a demographic questionnaire, reflection questions about a clinicalcase vignette, two journal exercises, and two interviews. The single case analysis results included (a) clinicians-in training having a level of awareness that ranged from no awareness to some awareness of VT and (b) they had an increased ability to recognize symptoms, risk factors, and impact of VT as well as resilience and self care after attending the VT training program. The cross case analysis resulted in the emergence of three categories of findings: (a) level of awareness of VT, (b) impact of the VT psychoeducational workshop, and (c) participants’ responses to the clinical case vignette. The discussion includes an interpretation of the findings that emerged from the analysis, implications and limitations of the study, and consideration of future areas of study.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access