Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Counselor Education and Supervision

Advisor

Katarzyna Peoples

Abstract

Assault of community-based mental health professionals is a worldwide phenomenon, and current extant literature examines the prevalence of client assault on counselors, social workers, and psychiatric personnel. While there is significant quantitative scholarship on the incidence of this phenomenon on social workers and psychiatric personnel, there are limited statistical data on client-perpetrated violence against community-based counselors and no qualitative studies found that examined how these professionals experience this occupation risk. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore how counselors who work in community-based settings make sense of these experiences. Through semi structured interviews, 6 community-based counselors living in the Southeastern region of the U.S. shared their lived experience of client assault. Hermeneutic was used as a methodological and theoretical framework to analyze the data. The following themes emerged from the data study: training as a management strategy, ambivalence as a new way of being, and connections for well-being. The results of this study have training, practice, supervision, and social change implications. Through adding counselors’ voices to the discourse on client assault, the findings of this study can be used to identify experiences and training that will assist counselors in caring for themselves in the aftermath of an assault. Furthermore, understanding these experiences may inform the development of protocols for keeping this vulnerable population safe.

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