This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Practicing Counselors, Vicarious Trauma, and Subthreshold PTSD: Implications for Counselor Educators




Lanier, Bethany

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The purpose of the current study was to gain an understanding of the relationship of vicarious trauma symptoms and subthreshold Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms among practicing counselors. Research indicates that counselors that experience vicarious trauma symptoms and subthreshold PTSD symptoms are at risk to become an occupational hazard due to the chance of causing harm to themselves, the client, and the workplace (Howlett & Collins, 2014). Additionally, research indicates that counselors who develop vicarious trauma symptoms and subthreshold PTSD symptoms are at particular risk to leave the profession early (Keim et al., 2008). Participants for this study were a national sample of practicing counselors recruited through counseling listservs. This study developed an understanding of the frequency of vicarious trauma symptoms and subthreshold PTSD symptoms experienced among practicing counselors. Additionally, in developing implications for counselor educators, the researcher determined common contributing factors among practicing counselors that participants feel contributed to the development of vicarious trauma symptoms (i.e. working primarily with adolescents and sexual assault/domestic violence). Implications were developed for counselor educators to determine how they best can prepare students to avoid vicarious trauma symptoms and decrease subthreshold PTSD symptoms among practicing counselors’ post-degree.