Psychosocial impacts of training to provide professional help: Harm and growth

Jacqueline Ball, Clare Watsford, Brett Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


Research has consistently demonstrated professionals in helping roles (“helping professionals”) experience vicarious trauma, moral injury, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, and burnout. Vicarious post-traumatic growth has also been identified in the literature. This article aimed to contribute to understanding the experiences of these constructs of trainee helping professionals. Emphasis was placed on how to foster vicarious post-traumatic growth. Methods: A qualitative semi-structured interview was designed to enable the researchers to explore the experiences of 14 trainee psychologists from an Australian Master of Clinical Psychology program. Results: It was identified that burnout, and beginning stages of vicarious trauma, moral injury, compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatic stress might occur during psychologists’ training. Five elements underpin vicarious post-traumatic growth, four of which were reflected in this article. A need and suggestions for how to further develop vicarious post-traumatic growth are discussed. Conclusion: This research could go on to be applied to curriculum development and practice policy, ultimately leading to improved early-intervention and ongoing systems of support for helping professionals. This, in turn, would improve quality of care in communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


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