Impact of Trauma Work on Social Work Clinicians: Empirical Findings

  • Cunningham M
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Abstract

Over the past two decades, social workers have treated trauma survivors in a variety of settings. Interest has increased in the effect of this work on clinicians. Vicarious traumatization is a concept used to understand the impact of trauma work on clinicians. This article describes a study of social work clinicians working with two types of trauma: (1) the human-induced trauma, sexual abuse, and (2) the naturally caused trauma, cancer. The effect on clinician's cognitive schemas and the confounding variables of personal history of abuse and years' experience are described. Clinicians who worked primarily with clients who were sexually abused reported more disruptions in cognitive schemas than clinicians who worked with clients who had cancer. Implications for social practice and education are described.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Clinicians
  • Cognitive schemas
  • Sexual abuse
  • Trauma work
  • Vicarious traumatization

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Authors

  • Maddy Cunningham

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