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Nykia Johnson, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle

Dissertation Committee

Mark Russell, Ph.D., Committee Chair

William Heusler, Psy.D., Committee Member

Frances Schopick, J.D., Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

Over the last three decades, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people incarcerated within the United States. A significant number of those incarcerated have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Subsequently, as the incarceration rate rises, so does the need for qualified mental health professionals who are able to treat mentally ill prisoners. Correctional mental health providers work in very dangerous, oppressive, and often-chaotic settings, with very little control over their environment. They must address daily episodes of violence and threats from inmates with histories of murder, rape, and assault, while still maintaining their ability to engage in a therapeutic relationship. They must be able to address a wide array of psychiatric and behavioral issues exhibited by the inmates, including acute psychosis, chronic depression, bipolar disorder, and various personality disorders, while simultaneously developing a constructive treatment plan. Additionally, many inmates have experienced extreme cases of trauma, often sharing vivid descriptions of abuse and suffering. These combined factors can eventually contribute to the development of secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout amongst correctional mental health providers. This research will examine how correctional mental health providers cope with the effects of working with the prisoner population and how it affects their own mental health. This research is specifically interested in how trauma exposure manifests in the form of Secondary Traumatic Stress amongst correctional mental health staff.

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Nykia Johnson, Psy.D., 2017.

ORCID Scholar #0000-0002-8383-7601

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