Research will explore secondary trauma experienced by counselors | Addiction Professional Magazine Skip to content Skip to navigation

Research will explore secondary trauma experienced by counselors

April 23, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
| Reprints
Study also will examine how addiction treatment centers address trauma issues

A University of Georgia researcher is embarking on a project designed to evaluate how addiction treatment centers address trauma issues in their clients, and the program characteristics that predict how centers might approach this facet of treatment. Yet the researcher considers another aspect of his inquiry to be even more significant: an examination of how accounts of trauma related by clients can affect the well-being of counseling professionals.

Brian Bride, a faculty member at the university’s School of Social Work, began to understand the extent of this problem when he surveyed a group of alcohol and drug counselors three years ago. His soon-to-be-published data from that survey found that 19% of counselors met clinical criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from secondary trauma, he says.

“The snapshot of what treatment programs are doing is important, but if you pinned me down I’d say the look at workforce issues is most important,” Bride says. Data collection for this new research project, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), will begin in the next few months, and Bride hopes results will be ready to be published within a couple of years.

Bride says he will draw from several nationally representative samples of addiction treatment agencies for his look at how treatment centers are addressing trauma in clients. The research will explore factors that might predict whether a program treats trauma in an integrated manner with in-house staff or relies instead on collaborations with outside providers who deliver these services.

Bride adds in a statement from the university, “One of the things that excites me most about this funding is that it allows me to integrate two lines of my research—substance abuse treatment and secondary traumatic stress. Though I have always seen the link, I have had little opportunity to integrate the two into a single study.”