Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Eric M. Sauer

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Third Advisor

Dr. C Richard Spates


Psychotherapists, attachment, trauma, psychologists, coping, childhood abuse


Psychotherapists have been found to have higher rates of childhood developmental trauma when compared to non-clinicians, yet they do not report more distress. The current study added to the literature regarding the experiences of psychotherapists and explored a theoretical model integrating attachment and coping as mediators for the relationship between childhood developmental trauma and psychological distress among psychotherapists.

A total of 130 masters' level psychologists participated in this study. These participants were asked to complete the following measures: The Child Abuse and Trauma Scale (Sanders& Becker-Lausen, 1995), the Ways of Coping-Revised (Folkman & Lazarus, 1985; Folkman, Lazarus, Denkel-Schetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986),the BriefCOPE (Carver, 1997), the Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000), the Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis & Melisaratos, 1983), and a demographic survey.

Descriptive statistics, correlations, and path analyses were employed to investigate the variables of childhood developmental trauma, attachment, coping, and distress. Participants reported higher levels of childhood developmental trauma than did normed samples, were more likely to use problem-focused coping over emotion-focused coping when encountering work-related stressors, and were not significantly more distressed than were non-patient normed samples. However, the participants had higher levels of both attachment anxiety and avoidance than did the normed samples. Finally, an exploratory path analysis model in which childhood developmental trauma's effects on distress were hypothesized to be all indirect through the variables of anxious attachment and emotion-focused coping was found to be plausible. Findings were discussed and suggestions for future research were made.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access