Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy - School Psychology


Human Services

First Advisor

Daniel McCleary

Second Advisor

Summer Koltonski

Third Advisor

Elaine Turner

Fourth Advisor

Jamie Flowers


School psychology practicum and internship students increasingly engaged in activities in which they assisted children and clients who were survivors of various traumatic experiences. It has become apparent that the psychological effects of secondary traumatic stress (STS) extend beyond those directly affected and impact those in a variety of helping professions. Despite research that examined STS in various helping professions, gaps currently exist that describe STS in school psychology. In reported research, similar helping professionals engaged in school psychology service activities, which resulted in elevated STS symptoms and other adverse outcomes (Ravi et al., 2021). This study posited that school psychology students who worked with trauma in their practicum or internships exhibited higher STS symptoms and lowered professional satisfaction. Additionally, the relationships between STS, professional burnout, and compassion were examined. Lastly, the degree to which exposure and training predicted the amount of secondary traumatic stress and professional quality of life scores was assessed. The Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS; Bride et al., 2004) and the Professional Quality of Life Scale (PQLS; Stamm, 2010) were given along with an original demographic questionnaire to determine the impact of STS on participants. Results indicated that school psychology students’ exposure to trauma during their practicum and internship experiences significantly predicted elevations in STS (b = 4.30), burnout (b =1.70), and compassion satisfaction (b =1.78) while university training in topics related to STS were shown to decrease these variables (b = -3.33; -1.25; -0.99). No significant relationship between STS, burnout, and compassion satisfaction were found. The results indicated that school psychology practicum students and interns experienced elevated levels of STS, burnout, and compassion satisfaction as a result of their exposure to trauma work. Additionally, engaging in university training that addresses self-care, wellbeing, and responding to STS significantly decreased these variables. This implied that measures to address STS should be taken by university training programs and school psychology students in order to mitigate negative symptomology that may result from working with trauma.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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