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Title: The lived experiences of professionals working with child abuse in Malta
Authors: Grech, Caroline
Keywords: Child welfare workers -- Malta
Psychotherapist and patient -- Malta
Child psychologists -- Malta
Secondary traumatic stress -- Malta
Child abuse -- Malta
Issue Date: 2016
Abstract: Professional helpers in trauma-related fields are often exposed to situations and narratives that elicit emotional and psychological distress, and which can cumulatively contribute to cognitive distortions and impairment in the individuals’ ability to function in their daily life. Nonetheless, the positive effects of immersion in this type of work has also been documented, including satisfaction borne out of meaningful connections with clients and increased resilience in dealing with personal hardships after witnessing service-users’ persistence in the face of adversity. This study, thus, aims to explore how work with traumatised clients, such as child abuse victims, influences the professional’s lived experiences, particularly as research has tended to conceptualise the deleterious and transformative impact of this profession separately. Therefore, the full impact of a helper profession in trauma cannot be wholly understood as influential models/theories such as secondary traumatic stress, vicarious trauma, vicarious resilience and vicarious post-traumatic growth consider the lived experiences of professionals rather one-sidedly and overlook their interrelatedness. For the purpose of this research, five semi-structured interviews were held with 4 child protection workers and a child psychologist, who were asked about both their negative and positive experiences in their respective careers. The interviews were analysed using Jonathan Smith’s Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, with the findings revealing that the participants experienced degrees of secondary trauma, which were however counterbalanced by personal self-growth, a search for purpose and meaning, and positive coping strategies. This research is, therefore, of significance to the fields of psychology and social work as it provided insight into how professional helpers coped and made sense of their exposure to trauma and its impact on their personhood.
Description: B.PSY.(HONS)
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacSoW - 2016
Dissertations - FacSoWPsy - 2016

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