Date of Award

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Counselor Education

Major Professor

Marianne Woodside

Committee Members

Tricia McClam, Gary J. Skolits, Joy T. DeSensi

Abstract

This dissertation was an exploratory research study using a cross-sectional survey design to examine the impact of ecological, environmental, psychological, and financial hardship on counselors of the U.S. Gulf Region. Since 2005, the U.S. Gulf Region, unlike any other region of the United States, has faced multiple disasters including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav (Walsh, 2010), the Great Recession (Conant, 2010), and the largest ecological disaster in the history of the United States, the BP Oil Spill (Gray, 2010). The purpose of this study was to explore the attitudes and characteristics of counselors in one U.S. Gulf State, specifically Mississippi, to obtain valuable information about compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction of counselors as measured by the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) (Stamm, 2009). The researcher used a demographic survey and the ProQOL (Stamm) for analyses. The researcher collected the ProQOL (Stamm) sub-scale scores of 282 Mississippi counselors who attended the 60th Annual Mississippi Counseling Conference. The counselors recorded high compassion satisfaction scores, low burnout scores and low secondary traumatic stress scores. Additionally, the researcher used one-way MANOVAs to examine the main effects of counselor characteristics such as educational level, gender, geographic location, self-care methods, and years of experience on the ProQOL (Stamm) sub-scale means of compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. The researcher found two statistically significant differences in gender and years of experience. Male participants’ burnout and secondary traumatic stress scores were significantly less than female participants’ burnout and secondary traumatic stress scores. Participants with 1-10 years of experience recorded statistically significant higher burnout scores and lower compassion satisfaction scores than participants with less than one year of experience, 10-20 years of experience, and more than 20 years of experience. In contrast to assumptions related to the ecological, environmental, psychological, and financial hardship present in this region, high levels of satisfaction was found in counselors who serve this region. The researcher found that despite the impact of these multiple traumatic events these counselors were satisfied with their work.

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