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Title: Treating trauma : a grounded theory study of professionals' experiences of working with sexual abuse in childhood
Author: Affleck, Gillian
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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Therapists working with survivors of traumatic events are inevitably exposed to the shocking and emotionally painful experiences of their clients. In recent years attention has been turned to the impact of this work on these therapists. Research into the concept of ‘vicarious traumatisation’ (Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995) has thus far sought to quantify levels of traumatic symptomatology among trauma therapists. This research however provides a limited account of the processes which might underlie such a phenomenon. Literature examining the experiences of therapists who work with adult survivors of sexual abuse suggests that particular dynamic processes within therapeutic work may contribute to this phenomenon. It is also suggested that work with child victims of abuse may be particularly difficult. There is, however, very little work examining the experiences of therapists working with these clients. In the present study, a qualitative methodology was used to explore the experiences of ten therapists working in three Child Sexual Abuse teams in Central Scotland through open-ended interviews. Grounded Theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) was used to analyse interview material. Two core categories emerged in this study. The first related to participants’ responses to, and ways of coping within their work. The second encompassed aspects of therapists’ emotional and psychological experiences outside the work context, which related to their experiences within it. These experiences were then interpreted from a psychodynamic perspective, relating them to processes of counter-transference and projective identification. It was suggested that the strength of these processes may be partly a facet of the particular dynamic and interpersonal challenges encountered in working with victims of interpersonal abuse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available