Secondary Traumatic Stress in Mental Health Therapists: Potential Protective Factors.

LaLonde, Cathleen, and Barry Dauphin

~~Trauma is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, which has frequent adverse affects on mental health therapists who assist individuals in treating and working through their experiences of trauma.  These effects can be conceptualized as countertransference experiences that may develop into secondary traumatic stress (feelings and reactions similar to PTSD, mirroring those of traumatized patients).  However, not all mental health therapists who treat traumatized individuals will develop secondary traumatic stress.  This notion suggests that there are factors that may prevent or contribute to its development. The current study examined correlations between secondary traumatic stress and potential protective factor variables, while controlling for social desirability. Results showed that personal therapy, clinical supervision, and resilience, may serve as protective factors against the development of secondary traumatic stress in mental health therapists.