Career Themes in the Lives of Sexual Abuse Counsellors - A qualitative inquiry into therapist responses to stress and trauma

Margaret Pack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper, which draws on material from a larger study, focuses on the career trajectories of counsellors who specialise in sexual abuse work. The initial aim of the study was to assess whether the vicarious traumatisation literature
underpinned by constructivist self-development theory was relevant. Twenty-two counsellors were interviewed using a qualitative research design and method. In individual interviews, counsellors’ motivations for entering the field of sexual abuse therapy were explored, as well as the ways in which their practice experiences had modified their earlier expectations of the work, and the counsellors’ subsequent diversification into other roles. The participants in the research, hereafter referred to as the counsellor-participants, described developments in their thinking about sexual abuse that influenced the theoretical approaches they espoused and their career development. Coming to terms with their own early traumatic material meant that many of the counsellor- participants developed knowledge of their own healing processes that they could use constructively in assisting other trauma survivors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Counselling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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