Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Susan T. Parlier


Repeated exposure to clients’ trauma has led to secondary or vicarious emotional distress for social workers, which has negatively impacted their professional and personal lives. The purpose of this qualitative action research study was to explore social workers’ perceptions of organizational support of social workers with symptoms of vicarious trauma. Ecological systems theory provided the framework for the study. The sample consisted of 6 clinical licensed social workers who participated in 2 focus group sessions, one with 4 participants and one with 2 participants. Data were inductively coded and analyzed to identify patterns and themes. Findings indicated that social workers had a negative perception of organizational support related to social workers exhibiting secondary/vicarious trauma. Findings also indicated a disparity between organizational verbiage of support for social workers with symptoms of secondary or vicarious trauma. Participants reported feeling less valuable to employers than the clients they serve. Findings may benefit social workers, clients, and organizations by promoting an enhanced culture of caring and support.

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