Vicarious trauma: an exploratory study of the impact of providing sexual abuse treatment on clinicians' trust and intimacy

J Child Sex Abus. 2006;15(1):69-85. doi: 10.1300/J070v15n01_04.


This study examined vicarious trauma effects in male and female clinicians who treat sexual abuse survivors (n = 111) and sexual offenders (n = 272). The national survey was conducted using a random sample of clinical members of two professional organizations. Analyses tested the relationships between demographic variables, maltreatment history, client population served, and cognitions about trust of and intimacy with others, using the Trauma Stress Institute Belief Scale (TSIBS-R-L, Pearlman 2003), the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ, Bernstein & Fink, 1998), and author-generated questions. Respondents reported high rates of multiple forms of childhood maltreatment; however there was no relationship between history of child sexual abuse and vicarious trauma effects. Scores for self-reported disruption in cognitions about intimacy with others exceeded norms for mental health professionals. Sequential regression analyses were used to examine theoretically-derived variables. Implications for practice and research are detailed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / rehabilitation*
  • Crime Victims / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trust*