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Journal Article


Ogińska-Bulik N, Juczyński Z, Michalska P. J. Interpers. Violence 2022; 37(3-4): NP1197-NP1225.


(Copyright © 2022, SAGE Publishing)






One of the negative consequences of indirect trauma exposure is secondary traumatic stress (STS). Professionals helping victims of violence may be at the risk of STS symptoms development. Both empathy and cognitive processing of trauma seem to be important in this process. The aim of the study was to examine the relationship between empathy, cognitive processing of trauma and symptoms of STS in women working with people who have experienced violence trauma. The mediation role of cognitive coping strategies in the relationship between empathy and STS was also checked. A total of 154 female professionals representing three groups (therapists, social workers, and probation officers) were included in the study. The age of the respondents ranged from 26 to 67 years (M = 43.98, SD = 10.83). Three standard measurement tools were included in the study: the modified PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), the Empathic Sensitivity Scale, and the Cognitive Processing of Trauma Scale. Correlational analysis indicated STS to have positive associations (Pearson's correlation coefficients) with all three aspects of empathy, and three of the five cognitive coping strategies (denial, regret, downward comparison). Mediation analysis performed by the bootstrapping method found strategies of regret and downward comparison to act as mediators in the relationship between STS and empathic concern. The same results were obtained for perspective taking. In addition, the regret and denial strategies mediated the relationship between personal distress and STS. Empathy and cognitive trauma processing may play an important role in STS symptoms development. Preventive programs for professionals helping trauma victims should focus on cognitive processing of trauma and empathy.

Language: en


violence; professionals; cognitive processing; empathy; secondary traumatic stress


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