Posttraumatic stress disorder and vicarious trauma in mental health professionals

Michal Finklestein, Einat Stein, Talya Greene, Israel Bronstein, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study investigated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and vicarious trauma (VT) symptoms among mental health professionals (MHPs) working in communities exposed to high levels of trauma related to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The study assessed direct and vicarious traumatic exposure. The study also explored the relationship between professional supports (for example, training, supervision) and sense of professional self-efficacy with MHPs' PTSD and VT symptoms. Results indicate that MHPs working in the more severely affected community of Sderot reported higher objective, subjective, and professional exposure as well as higher levels of PTSD and VT symptoms compared with MHPs working in some of the other Gaza-bordering communities. Although PTSD and VT were found to be highly correlated, there were some distinct predictors. PTSD was predicted by professional experience, subjective exposure, and professional self-efficacy. VT was further predicted by years of education and professional support. The findings indicate that MHPs exposed to concurrent primary trauma and VT are at increased risk for psychological distress and may require targeted interventions to boost their resilience. Opportunities for respite, interventions to increase professional self-efficacy, and appropriate professional supports may buffer the effects of concurrent primary trauma and VT exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e25-e31
JournalHealth and Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 National Association of Social Workers.


  • mental health practice
  • ongoing exposure
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • shared traumatic reality
  • vicarious traumatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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