Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Counselor Education

Major Professor

Marianne Woodside

Committee Members

Eric Heidel, Shawn Spurgeon, Gary Skolits

Abstract

Individuals at risk of suicide often seek mental health treatment (Brook, Klap, Liao, & Wells, 2006; Moscicki, 2001; Souminen, Isometsa, Martunnen, Ostamo, & Lonnqvist, 2004). The clinicians who treat these individuals experience significant levels of stress (Knox, Burkard, Bentzler, Schaack, & Hess, 2006; Ruskin, Sakinofsky, Bagby, Dickens, & Sousa, 2004). Clinical supervisors are an important resource for clinicians (Chemtob, Hamada, Bauer, Kinney, & Torigoe, 1988a; Kleespies, Smith, & Becker, 1990; Knox et al., 2006; Maltsberger, 1992; Ruskin et al., 2004). Researchers recently acknowledged that overseeing clinicians whose client exhibited suicidal behavior is also stressful (Catalana, 2012; Hoffman, 2009; Sanger, 2010). Using the Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R) (Weiss & Marmer, 1997), this dissertation examined the impact of stress on clinical supervisors. A group of 17 supervisors reported they experienced symptoms of stress related to intrusion, avoidance, and hyperarousal and experienced the impact by those related to intrusion and avoidance. Findings suggest clinical supervisors are impacted by suicidal behaviors in the treatment dyad and when confronted with the event exhibit symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, and portray components of compassion fatigue. Implications for clinical supervisors and counselor educators are discussed. Conclusions to this study caution clinical supervisors to be aware of the impact stress may have and encourages mental health institutions to support clinical supervisors by reviewing their response to suicidal behavior.

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