Vicarious Trauma in Social Workers: The Role of Trauma History, Social Support, and Years of Experience


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Vicarious trauma, a disruption in schemas and worldview often accompanied by symptoms similar to those of posttraumatic stress disorder, occurs as a result of chronic secondary exposure to traumatic material. The aim of this study was to examine the role of personal trauma history, social support, and experience level in the development of vicarious trauma among licensed social workers in Maryland (N = 160). Results indicated an increase in social support and in experience level of social workers predicted less severe vicarious trauma. In addition, an interaction effect between trauma history and social support trending on significance indicated higher levels of social support might help protect those without a trauma history but not those with a trauma history against vicarious trauma. Research and clinical implications are discussed.

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