Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Liu, William

First Committee Member

Altmaier, Elizabeth

Second Committee Member

Westefeld, John

Third Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart

Fourth Committee Member

Cochran, Heather

Fifth Committee Member

Watt, Sherry


For some people, exposure to trauma results in the development of psychological maladjustment in the form of posttraumatic stress disorder. Veterans returning from combat zones tend to meet criteria for PTSD at rates significantly higher than what is observed in the general population. Mental health professionals, particularly those working with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, play an important role in the recovery of these Veterans. Research suggests that facilitating trauma therapy and/or being exposed second-hand to traumatic material can have negative consequences for the therapist. The current study focuses on the impact of trauma therapy on therapists who work with combat veterans through the VA. The study includes seven psychologists in the state of Iowa employed by VA. Findings support previous research by highlighting the impact therapy has on the clinician providing it. The impact of facilitating trauma therapy or working with traumatized populations is not wholly positive or negative, but often both. The current study suggests that what clinicians do in response to hearing trauma narratives that is of key importance.


Secondary Traumatic Stress, Veterans, Vicarious Trauma


v, 110 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 100-110).


Copyright 2014 Kari Finnegan