Vicarious traumatization: the impact on therapists who work with sexual offenders

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2007 Jan;8(1):67-83. doi: 10.1177/1524838006297729.


This article reviews the descriptive and empirical literature examining vicarious traumatization in therapists treating sexual offenders. Vicarious traumatization in sexual offender therapists is described, including an examination of the relationships between vicarious traumatization and client, therapist, and setting and therapy characteristics. Special attention is given to those unique factors that contribute to the development of vicarious traumatization in this group, as well as consideration of why therapists treating offenders or victims may differ in their experience and development of vicarious traumatization. Evidence from the research reviewed suggests that sexual offender therapists do experience symptoms of vicarious traumatization. Factors most strongly associated with the development of vicarious traumatization in sexual offender therapists include professional experience, treatment setting, and coping strategies employed by the therapists. Implications and recommendations for professionals and policymakers are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional* / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional* / psychology
  • Canada
  • Counseling
  • Countertransference*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases* / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases* / psychology
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Sex Offenses*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • United States
  • Workload / psychology