Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Degree Program

Counselor Education

Department

Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Dr. Barbara Herlihy

Second Advisor

Dr. Claire Thoreson

Third Advisor

Dr. Zarus Watson

Abstract

The population consisted of 9,000 Gulf Coast Licensed Professional Counselors. Surveys were returned by 609 participants. In the researcher-developed demographic survey, 586 individuals responded to the questions regarding age, gender, ethnicity, and years of counseling experience; 585 individuals responded to questions about exposure to prior trauma, and personal Katrina-related losses; 578 individuals responded to the question about the percentage of their work week that was spent counseling victims, and 579 individuals responded to questions regarding the type of mental health care strategy they participated in. There were 439 usable surveys for the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C) (Weathers, Litz, Huska, & Keane, 1994) and 448 for the Compassion Fatigue Subscale of The Compassion Fatigue and Satisfaction Self-Test for Helpers (Figley & Stamm, 1996).

The PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C) (Weathers, Litz, Huska, & Keane, 1994) was utilized to evaluate Gulf Coast Licensed Professional Counselors for vicarious traumatization within the first year of working with Hurricane Katrina survivors. A total score of 30 or above on the PCL-C is required to meet criteria for PTSD. A total of 32.1% of respondents (141 individuals) scored 30 or above- criteria for vicarious traumatization. Respondents were evaluated for current compassion fatigue symptoms using the Compassion Fatigue. A score of 36-40 indicates high risk for compassion fatigue and a score of 41 and above indicates an extremely high risk for compassion fatigue. When the participants were evaluated based on their symptoms 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, 5.1% scored 36 or above, indicating high or extremely high risk for compassion fatigue.

The strategies examined were traditional clinical psychotherapy (individual, group, couples or family) and non-clinical self-care (prayer, meditation, exercise, yoga, engaging in pleasurable activities). The relationship between these types of mental health care and CFS scores were examined, and the results indicated that participation in traditional mental health counseling is associated with lower CFS scores, which indicate a lower risk for compassion fatigue, and participation in non-clinical self-care is also associated with lower CFS scores, which indicates a lower risk for compassion fatigue; however, participation in traditional mental health counseling is more strongly associated with lower CFS scores than non-clinical self-care.

Rights

The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

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