The Ripple Effect: Lessons Learned About Secondary Traumatic Stress Among Clinicians Responding to the September 11th Terrorist Attacks
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- Pulido, M.L. Clin Soc Work J (2012) 40: 307. doi:10.1007/s10615-012-0384-3
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Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) symptoms experienced by mental health clinicians who treated clients for issues related to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were intense and unprecedented. An exploratory study, using qualitative techniques as the primary information gathering method, was conducted to gain a better understanding about “indirect” exposure to terrorism. Twenty-six mental health clinicians participated in this research effort. As part of this study, questions regarding STS were explored. STS levels among clinicians who provided care to victims of 9/11 were high 30 months after the attacks. Most clinicians lacked experience providing disaster relief mental health care. Availability of supervision and agency support was described as “weak;” however, peer support was deemed helpful. Over the past decade, progress has been made in addressing STS issues. Implications are included for social work practice, disaster mental health administration, funding sources and policy. Recommendations for future research are identified.