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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Amy Cavanaugh
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Title: Ability of Clinicians-in-Training to Recognize Vicarious Traumatization: A Multiple Case Study
Dr. Kelly A. McDonnell, Chair
Dr. Mary Z. Anderson
Dr. Karyn Boatwright
Dr. Ineke Way
Date: Friday, November 12, 2010 Noon to 2:00 p.m.
3208 Sangren Hall
Clinicians repeated exposure to clients who have a history of traumatic experiences can lead to Vicarious Traumatization (VT) and negative changes within themselves (McCann & Pearlman, 1990), including changes in their sense of self and worldview, with the potential to impact their professional identity and counseling work with clients (Neumann & Gamble, 1995; Patrick, 2007; Pearlman, 1995; Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995a; Pearlman & Saakvitne, 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 purpose of this study was 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 clinicians-in-training ability 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 clinical case vignette, two journal exercises, and two interviews. The single case analysis results included emerged findings from participants’ data in the following five areas: (a) awareness level, (b) recognition of VT symptoms, (c) recognition of VT risk factors, (d) recognition of VT’s impact, and (e) resilience and self care. According to Yin (2009) an important aspect of multiple case study research is an analysis of all cases that seek to unify each case under common categories. The cross case analysis resulted in the emergence of three categories of findings: level of awareness of VT, impact of the VT psychoeducational workshop, and participants’ responses to the clinical case vignette. The discussion includes an interpretation and discussion of the findings that emerged from the analysis, implications and limitations of the study, and consideration of future areas of study.