Vicarious traumatisation: Working with clients of probation services

Inbal Merhav, Maayan Lawental, Maya Peled-Avram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to explore whether attachment styles of adult probation officers (POs) are correlated with disruptions in cognitive schemas of trust and safety (vicarious traumatisation—VT) and whether they moderate the relationship between personal trauma history and cognitive schemas. We conducted an anonymous self-report census with adult POs in Israel (N=189). The study findings suggest that POs with secure attachment have lower average disruptions in trust and safety than POs with insecure attachment. The findings also indicate that attachment style moderates the relationship between personal trauma history and disruptions in the safety schema, but not in trust schema. These findings suggest that insecure attachment may increase the risk of developing VT as a result of repeated exposure to trauma in the context of working with clients of probation services. Implications include raising awareness of workers, supervisors and staff management to personal and professional risk factors that may affect job performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2215-2234
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • Adult probation officers
  • Attachment styles
  • Offenders
  • Social workers
  • Trauma
  • Vicarious traumatisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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