The protective role of compassion satisfaction for therapists who work with sexual violence survivors: an application of the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions
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Therapists who work with trauma survivors, such as survivors of sexual violence, can experience compassion satisfaction while experiencing negative effects of trauma work, such as secondary traumatic stress. We examined whether the negative effects of secondary traumatic stress on therapist adjustment would be buffered by compassion satisfaction and whether the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions could be applied to examine the factors (positive emotions and positive reframing) that relate to compassion satisfaction. Sixty-one therapists who work with sexual violence survivors completed measures of secondary traumatic stress, compassion satisfaction, adjustment, positive emotions and positive reframing. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses found that compassion satisfaction buffered the negative impact of secondary traumatic stress on therapist adjustment when adjustment was conceptualised as anxiety. Using non-parametric bootstrapping, we found that the relationship between greater positive emotions and greater compassion satisfaction was partially mediated by positive reframing. The findings indicate that compassion satisfaction is likely to be helpful in ameliorating the negative effects of secondary traumatic stress on anxiety in therapists who work with sexual violence survivors and that the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions may provide a strong theoretical basis for the further examination of compassion satisfaction in trauma therapists.
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