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Secondary traumatic stress among telephone counsellors in South Africa.

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This study explored Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) in a sample of telephone counselors in South African. The ultimate aim for the study was to provide baseline information for further research regarding the reduction of risk of secondary traumatic stress for telephone counselors. Participants completed two instruments: The Professional Quality of life scale (ProQol) (Stamm, 2010) and a short biographical questionnaire. Results indicated that the majority of counsellors within the sample reported experiencing a low to average level of symptoms associated with STS and a relatively high level of compassion satisfaction (CS). It was noted that STS was inclined to decrease, as CS increased. A number of factors were perceived to have a buffering effect against the development of STS. These factors included physical and mental health, adequate training, adequate supervision and support from colleagues, religious / spiritual grounding and social interaction. The results confirm that these specific factors of resilience need to be considered when designing interventions to buffer against the development of STS and burn out in telephone counselors within South Africa.


M.A. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2014.


Secondary traumatic stress., Psychotherapists -- Job stress., Counselors -- Job stress., Theses -- Clinical psychology.