• Compassion fatigue among Employee Assistance Program counselors

      Frey, Jodi J; DiBlasio, Frederick A. (2004)
      Compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and related constructs have not been empirically studied among Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselors. Prior research on secondary traumatic stress has focused on psychotherapists and emergency services personnel. EAP counselors are exposed to trauma as they are often the first mental health professional to hear a client's traumatic story through initial assessments and short-term counseling, as well as being the first mental health professional to respond to workplace critical incidents. Compassion fatigue among mental health counselors has been identified as an 'occupational hazard' and linked to negative psychological outcomes for the therapists as well as the client. This study assessed the prevalence and severity of compassion fatigue and burnout and potential for compassion satisfaction among EAP counselors. This study also explored relationships between individual and work-related characteristics as they predict or mediate EAP counselors' reactions to working with traumatized individuals and groups. A random national sample of 325 EAP counselors were surveyed using an anonymous mailed questionnaire during summer 2003. Results suggest that EAP counselors experience moderate risk for compassion fatigue, low risk for burnout, and high potential for compassion satisfaction. A predictive model based on the literature was developed and used in this study to predict risk for compassion fatigue and burnout and potential for compassion satisfaction. Subsequent multiple regressions were completed using the model for each of the outcome variables of interest. Results indicated that the predictive model, including coping style, was able to account for 21.5% of the total variance for compassion fatigue; 30.7% of the total variance for burnout; and 35.1% of the total variance for compassion satisfaction. The coping sub-scales were developed using principal components analysis (PCA) on the Brief COPE (Carver, 1997). Results from the PCA strongly suggest the existence of three separate subscales for coping: positive coping, passive coping, and negative coping. Another finding from this research indicated that specific types of personal trauma experiences, measured using the Stressful Life Experiences Scale (SLES-S, Stamm et al., 1996) were related to compassion fatigue and related constructs. Implications for research, theory, practice, and policy are discussed.
    • Depressive mood in parents of children in care: Effects on visitation

      Osgood, Dorothy; DiBlasio, Frederick A. (1994)
      Many parents of children in substitute care live in stressful environmental conditions and have experienced stressful life events. Since both stressful environmental conditions and life events have been associated with depression, it is possible that many of these parents are depressed and their depression may affect the frequency of their visitation with their children in care. Also, research supports that parental visitation is the strongest predictor of family reunification. Therefore, this study looks specifically at the relationship between depression, a possible role strain reaction, and two measures of potential reunification: frequency of contact and level of compliance with the visitation plan. Parental depression was measured within the first three months of the child's placement in substitute care by the Beck Depression Inventory and Generalized Contentment Scale. Also measured at the same time was the parent-child relationship (Index of Parental Attitudes) as viewed by the parents. After the child had been in care for six months, case records were reviewed to collect relevant demographic data and the number of contacts that parents had with their children. Multivariate analysis of the data did not support a significant relationship between depression and frequency of contact nor between depression and the level of compliance. A correlation between parent-child relationship and the frequency of contact was not supported but a correlation between parent-child relationship and level of compliance was supported when those parents who totally complied with the visitation plan were compared to those parents who did not totally comply with the visitation plan. Other variables that correlated significantly with frequency of contact were: marital status and whether the parents had other children at home. The identification of race correlated significantly with level of compliance with the visitation plan.
    • Forgiveness and psychotherapy

      Stipe, Ann Marie; DiBlasio, Frederick A. (1995)
      Forgiveness as a concept has been examined in the field of religion, philosophy, law, medicine, and the social sciences. In contrast, the literature on forgiveness and its role in psychotherapy is in its developmental infancy. Evidence thus far suggests that forgiveness has a definite impact on clients' individual and relational well being, yet the literature displays gaps in social work research, qualitative research, quantitative research, and generally research investigating the process of forgiveness in any sense. The purpose of this qualitative "grounded theory" field study was to explore psychotherapists' perceptions of forgiveness as it relates to psychotherapy. Fourteen psychotherapists from various out-patient counseling agencies participated. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant in three rounds of data collection. Common themes from each round were identified. The constant comparative method was used to develop the final working hypotheses which eventually became "grounded theory". Spiritual orientation was unanimously identified by psychotherapists as having an impact on their perceptions of forgiveness. Psychotherapists from four spiritual perspectives participated: Unitarian, Jewish, self spirituality with a Christian foundation and traditional Christian orientation. Results indicate there are differences and similarities among psychotherapists of various spiritual orientations. There were similar perspectives regarding definition and agreement that forgiveness is an important process in psychotherapy that results in many benefits for the clients. Examining differences among spiritual orientations resulted in the discovery of a spiritual bias to which all psychotherapists agreed. Psychotherapists from traditional Christian orientation were more likely to use the word "forgiveness" in psychotherapy than those from other perspectives. Psychotherapists identified the connection of forgiveness to Judeo-Christian values as their reason for avoiding the word even though they were facilitating the forgiveness process with clients. This also was offered as the explanation for the paucity in the professional literature. Implications of these findings include recommendations for practice and research. The importance of the forgiveness process in psychotherapy was confirmed. Various components of the forgiveness process are outlined and the practitioner is alerted to possible spiritual bias. Additional research is needed to confirm these findings and to further explore the role of forgiveness in social work practice.