Exploring the relationship between secondary traumatic stress, professional identity and career factors for counsellors

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This study used a correlational research design to explore the relationship between secondary traumatic stress, counsellor professional identity and career factors, including work setting and amount of counselling experience, among counsellor practitioners. A sample of 1,218 counsellors completed an online survey including the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS), Professional Identity Scale in Counseling and career factors. Career factors included context of work environments including years of experience, licence status, type of practice and work setting. Multiple regression analysis with forward selection demonstrated that, out of all the variables, professional identity emerged as the best predictor of secondary traumatic stress. One-way ANOVA showed significant group differences in the level of counsellors' secondary traumatic stress based on work setting, level of experience, type of practice and gender. Discussion explores how career and personal factors impact counsellor experiences of professional identity and secondary trauma in mental health settings.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
StatePublished - Mar 7 2023

ASJC Scopus Subject Areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


  • career development
  • compassion fatigue
  • counselling
  • professional identity
  • secondary traumatic stress

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