Norja Elizabeth Cunningham is a 2015 graduate of the PhD Program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Antioch University, New England.
- Kevin Lyness, Ph.D. - Committee Chair
- Megan Murphy, Ph.D. - Committee Member
- Amy Blanchard, Ph.D. - Committee Member
Norja Elizabeth Cunningham, Ph.D., LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapy, Secondary Traumatic Stress, Clinicialns, Qualitative Research, Phenomenology
Multiple facets of clinicians' lives are influenced by compassion fatigue including physiological well-being, the perspective of clinicians in relation to the world, and psychological and emotional reactions to trauma triggers (Figley, 1998). Work stress research considers the systemic effects of stress on workers' relationships. Research also shows that romantic relationships are negatively influenced by work stress (Sanz-Vergel, Rodriguez, Bakker & Demerouti, 2012). This phenomenological study investigated the lived experience of three clinicians and how compassion fatigue was experienced in their relationships with their partners and children. Clinicians completed the Professional Quality of Life assessment and those with a score of 23 or higher on the secondary traumatic stress and burnout subscales participated in an interview. The major themes that emerged in this study were: (a) awareness of the effect of compassion fatigue on relationships; (b) awareness of clinician's psychosomatic symptoms related to compassion fatigue; (c) awareness of the effect of compassion fatigue symptoms on the clinician's social interactions; (d) awareness of the importance of clinician's boundaries and self-care after the onset of compassion fatigue symptoms; (e) heightened awareness of spirituality or religiosity after the onset of compassion fatigue; and (f) awareness of the children's presence mitigating compassion fatigue symptoms. This dissertation also addresses the implications of this study regarding self-care, the limitations of this study and future research.
Cunningham, N. E. (2015). A Phenomenological Study: Marriage and Family Therapists' and Clinician's Perceptions of How Secondary Traumatic Stress Affects Them and Their Families. https://aura.antioch.edu/etds/214