Secondary Traumatic Stress, Burnout, and Compassion Satisfaction Among Child Advocacy Interdisciplinary Team Members


  • Marlys Staudt University of Tennessee
  • Mona Williams-Hayes



Secondary traumatic stress, burnout, compassion satisfaction, child advocacy centers, child sexual abuse, trauma, PTSD


Recent research has examined the stress and indirect trauma experienced by helping professionals who work with survivors of direct trauma, including interpersonal violence. Little of this research has focused on Child Advocacy Center team members. This practice-based survey research addresses that gap. The study examined secondary traumatic stress (STS), burnout, and compassion satisfaction (CS) in interdisciplinary team members (n=36) of one Child Advocacy Center in the southern United States, and explored relationships between CS, STS, and burnout. As assessed by the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale, 50% of participants experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms due to STS. Based on the Professional Quality of Life Scale, burnout was low and CS was high. Those with higher CS had lower burnout and STS. Positive associations were also found between life stresses in the past year as measured by the Social Readjustment Rating Scale and STS and burnout, but not CS. Practitioners, agency supervisors, and administrators need to be aware of the effects of trauma work, regularly assess for these effects, and provide opportunities for support and debriefing. Schools of social work should consider developing and implementing specialized units on STS and self-care.


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