Michelle Greenspoon Barrett, Psy.D., is a 2016 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara

Dissertation Committee

  • Sharleen O’Brien, PsyD, Chairperson
  • Brett Kia-Keating, EdD, Second Faculty
  • Thomas E. Eby, PhD, Expernal Professional


secondary traumatic stress, humor, empathy, public mental health

Document Type


Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between both empathy type and humor type to secondary traumatic stress in individuals who work in a public mental healthcare setting. Empathy type was divided into four subcategories: Perspective Taking, Fantasy-type, Empathic Concern, and Personal Distress. Similarly, humor type was divided into four subcategories: Affiliative, Self-Enhancing, Aggressive, and Self-Defeating. Clinical and non-clinical staff at the Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services department of Santa Barbara County, California participated in an online survey. The survey consisted of a sociodemographic questionnaire, as well as questionnaires related to humor, empathy, and secondary traumatic stress. Non- clinical staff was more likely to endorse STS and to report significantly higher scores Personal Distress Empathy scale, in comparison to clinical staff. Further, a significant relationship was found in both clinical and non-clinical workers to Perspective Taking and Fantasy-type Empathy. Finally, both clinical and non-clinical staff who endorsed significantly higher STS were also more likely endorse higher scores on Self-Defeating and Self-Enhancing Humor scales. Results showed that non-clinicians were more likely to report psychological distress than their clinical counterparts. Further, humor related to oneself was likely to be indicative of STS, as were the cognitive empathy types. The electronic version of this dissertation is available free at Ohiolink ETD Center,


ORCID Scholar ID: 0000-0002-4972-5446