Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology

Committee Director

Kristin E. Heron

Committee Member

Andrew S. Franklin

Committee Member

Richard W. Handel

Committee Member

Matt R. Judah


Trauma can result in adverse psychological outcomes from survivors and the helping professionals who support them. Vicarious (or secondary) traumatization is common among helping professionals and can lead to compassion fatigue and burnout. However, empathetic engagement with trauma survivors and their stories has been shown to lead to positive vicarious outcomes, including vicarious posttraumatic growth. Vicarious posttraumatic growth has been linked to personal and professional benefits for helping professionals. However, positive vicarious outcomes after engagement with peer trauma experiences had yet to be explored outside of helping relationships. The present study found that vicarious posttraumatic growth in non-helping professionals was uniquely predicted by hope, spirituality, and empathy. It is among the first studies to test multiple predictors of vicarious posttraumatic growth using an experimental design. Future research can continue to observe and magnify positive vicarious outcomes outside of helping profession contexts.


The VIRGINIA CONSORTIUM PROGRAM IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY is a joint program of Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University.


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