Emotional Well-Being and Secondary Traumatic Stress in New Zealand Youth Workers
Takhar-Stapleton, A. (2017). Emotional Well-Being and Secondary Traumatic Stress in New Zealand Youth Workers (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11338
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11338
This study aimed to explore the relationship of STS and emotional well-being among New Zealand youth workers using a qualitative approach. Eleven participants were interviewed for the study using a semi-structured interviewing technique. The purpose of this study was to fill a gap in the literature about the impact of working with traumatised youth and to identify if youth workers were at risk and vulnerable to the effects of trauma exposure. Three aims were incorporated in the study to answer the research question. The first aim was to explore ways in which youth work may be associated with decreased emotional well-being and STS with the second aim of identifying symptoms and causes of decreased emotional well-being and STS. Lastly, the third aim was to explore how decreased emotional well-being is associated with the development of STS. The findings suggest the majority of participants experienced moderate levels of decreased emotional well-being and displayed symptoms associated with the effects of secondary traumatic stress. The results confirmed the first aim of the study which identified youth work as being correlated with decreased emotional well-being and STS. The results suggested decreased emotional well-being increased vulnerability to developing STS and therefore, the third aim of the study was also confirmed. Several themes were found in the participants’ answers which revealed youth work is associated with emotional well-being and symptoms of STS. This included emotional detachment, suppression, and numbing, helplessness, burnout and lack of resources to cope, social withdrawal, difficulty sleeping and changes in appetite. Risk factors which appeared to increase vulnerability included personal trauma, PTSD, countertransference, and empathic engagement. Organisational stressors were also identified as increasing vulnerability which heavily influenced participants and contributed to extreme stress and exhaustion. Findings in this study contribute to the knowledge of secondary traumatic stress as well as increasing knowledge about the emotional effects of working with traumatised individuals. Furthermore, the study helps to educate helping professionals and increases knowledge of youth work.
University of Waikato
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