Year

2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology)

Department

School of Psychology

Abstract

A significant proportion of helping professionals experience functional impairment related to elevated personal symptoms of psychological distress as the result of frequent empathic engagement with distressed others. Research suggests that training strategies which explicitly inform and prepare these professionals are effective in preventing elevated symptoms and impairment. However, research conducted to date has focused on helpers in registered professional roles (e.g., medical practitioners, psychologists). Whether telephone crisis support workers, who frequently speak with highly distressed and suicidal callers, are impacted and can be assisted in similar ways is not currently reported in the literature.

This doctoral research is the first known research program to examine whether telephone crisis support workers experience impaired functioning related to elevated symptoms of psychological distress as the result of frequent empathic engagement with callers. The three studies which comprise this thesis are mapped to recommended stages of preventative intervention research program development. Studies seek to identify mechanisms of telephone crisis support workers’ functional impairment, with the ultimate goal of informing the development and/or modification of service strategies to optimise workers’ psychological wellbeing and functioning.

This thesis is unavailable until Friday, June 07, 2019

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