Molly O'Neil, Psy.D., is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle

Dissertation Committee

William Heusler, PsyD (Committee Chair)
Elin Bjorling, PhD (Committee Member)
Tyson Bailey, PsyD (Committee Member)


Program Evaluation, Vicarious Trauma, Secondary Traumatic Stress, Multidisciplinary Team, Staff, Child Advocacy Center, Nonprofit Organization, Sexual Abuse, Complex Trauma, Workplace, Team Functioning, MDT, CAC

Document Type


Publication Date



Program evaluation method was utilized to examine the relationship between vicarious rauma (VT) and organizational policies and practices. VT and secondary traumatic stress (STS) refer to the impact of hearing explicit accounts of people being directly traumatized. Indirect exposure to a traumatic events can cause traumatic stress and changes in the person's way of experiencing the self and the world. The focus of this evaluation was developed collaboratively with the Clinical Director of Monarch Children's Justice and Advocacy Center (MCJAC), the site of the program evaluation. The question of study was How effectively is MCJAC addressing vicarious trauma in staff, volunteers, and multi-disciplinary team members? MCJAC provides free services to victims of childhood sexual abuse and their families through forensic interviewing, psychotherapy, and family advocacy programs. Additionally, MCJAC houses and facilitates multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings (a case consult group of Child Advocacy Center partners, such as law enforcement, medical examiners, etc.). The purpose of this program evaluation included identifying current levels of VT/STS distress and cognitive changes in current staff, volunteers, and MDT members; and exploring the participants' perceptions and experiences of how MCJAC addressed VT. The evaluator conducted four interviews, developed and administered a qualitative and quantitative measure unique to this site, and administered the Trauma and Attachment Belief Scale (TABS) (Pearlman, 2003) and the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS) (Bride, Robinson, Yegidis, & Figley, 2004) to 16 participants. The quantitative results indicated low to average levels of VT/STS in participants. Qualitative data revealed more VT symptoms and both negative and positive impacts of working with the families. This program evaluation found most of the participants experienced most of the practices and the MCJAC culture as intended. Participants reflected trust, respect, and gratitude toward supervisor, team members, and team meetings. Although participants wanted to maintain the supportive and respectful atmosphere that allows them to get much-needed support, some experienced MDT as a point of exposure to material that increased their VT/ST symptoms. Recommendations included continuing current practices, creating a way to gather and implement new suggestions, and ongoing evaluation of VT/STS. The electronic version of this dissertation is at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLink ETD Center,


Molly O'Neil, 2015, PsyD.

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0001-7841-5634