Vicarious traumatisation in practitioners who work with adult survivors of sexual violence and child sexual abuse: literature review and directions for future research

Zoe Chouliara, Craig Hutchinson, Thanos Karatzias

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

20 Citations (Scopus)


Primary objective: The authors sought to summarise and evaluate evidence regarding vicarious traumatisation (VT) in practitioners working with adult survivors of sexual violence and/or child sexual abuse (CSA). Methods and selection criteria: Relevant publications were identified from systematic literature searches of PubMed and PsycINFO. Studies were selected for inclusion if they examined vicarious traumatisation resulting from sexual violence and/or CSA work and were published in English between January 1990 and June 2008. Critical analysis and results: Ten studies met the criteria of the present review. In summary, VT levels in the field of sexual violence/CSA are high with negative effects, but do not appear to exceed those reported by professionals working with non‐sexual violence or with sexual offenders. Further investigation is needed into predisposing and mediating factors before clear conclusions can be drawn. Conclusions: Previous research has suffered a number of methodological limitations regarding definitions, sampling, comparison groups, support arrangements and measurement. These factors compromise not only the rigour and generalisability of findings but also our ability to define VT as a useful concept. These limitations are discussed and recommendations made for a future research agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Issue number1
Early online date18 Feb 2009
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


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