Date of Conferral
Counselor Education and Supervision
In the past decade, the counseling profession has begun to recognize the impact of vicarious trauma on counselors who provide services to individuals who have experienced trauma. The constructivist self-development theory asserts that interpersonal frameworks can determine healthy versus unhealthy coping styles and impact a counselor's susceptibility to vicarious trauma. Researchers have explored vicarious trauma in a number of professions such as mental health counseling and social work however they have not examined potential risk factors specific to school counseling. The purpose of this correlational study was to investigate variables associated with vicarious trauma in school counselors. The research focused on the relationship between vicarious trauma and the level of exposure to student trauma, history of trauma in the counselor's personal life, self-other differentiation, level of school, and amount of trauma education. An electronic questionnaire was sent to 654 school counselors in four school districts in Virginia and was returned by 217. The survey included the Vicarious Trauma Scale, Self-Other Differentiation Scale, Adverse Childhood Experiences Inventory-Revised, and demographic survey. Data analysis conducted using multiple regression revealed a significant negative relationship between scores on the Self-Other Differentiation Scale and scores on the Vicarious Trauma Scale indicating counselors with less emotional differentiation from clients are more likely to have higher levels of vicarious trauma. Results of the study may be used to reduce the risk of vicarious trauma in school counselors so they can continue to support students who have been exposed to trauma.