This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Invisible Wounds: Preventing Vicarious Trauma in Practicing Counselors




Taylor, Margaret

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between supervision and levels of vicarious trauma in practicing counselors. Due to the diverse number of traumatic events, the probability of counselors encountering trauma related material is quite great, placing counselors at a higher risk for experiencing vicarious trauma (Sommer, 2008). The lack of knowledge and training on vicarious trauma can potentially result in an impaired counselor who can no longer effectively treat the trauma of the client due to their own distress. Possible harm to the client receiving counseling may result if the counselor is no longer capable of providing effective counseling. Therefore, it is essential counselor educators and supervisors begin to identify measures that will prevent the occurrence of vicarious trauma or lessen its effects in future and practicing counselors. This study found supervision to be strongly correlated with lower levels of vicarious trauma in practicing counselors. Additionally, this study indicated self care was the most effective supervision strategy in mitigating vicarious trauma symptoms in practicing counselors. Implications for supervisors and counselor educators are discussed to assist supervisors and educators in lessening the damaging effects of vicarious trauma on practicing counselors.