A scoping review of vicarious trauma interventions for service providers working with people who have experienced traumatic events

Jeongsuk Kim*, Brittney Chesworth, Hannabeth Franchino-Olsen, Rebecca J. Macy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Health and human service providers who aid traumatized individuals frequently experience vicarious trauma (VT). Although VT plays a critical role in service providers’ mental health and well-being, as well as in the quality of their service provision, little information is available concerning the development and implementation of VT interventions for service providers. To advance the development of evidence in this area, we undertook a scoping review in which we reviewed existing interventions intended to address VT among service providers working with traumatized clients. Searches of electronic databases were conducted to identify studies published in peer-reviewed journals, with no date restrictions. Over 1,315 citations were reviewed, and a total of 27 studies were included in the final review. The findings show that VT interventions in the literature can be divided broadly into four categories: psychoeducation, mindfulness intervention, art and recreational programs, and alternative medicine therapy. The VT interventions reviewed generally showed promise in their key outcomes, including reductions in secondary trauma stress, compassion fatigue, burnout, and other mental health outcomes. However, the current body of research is lacking both in rigor and in specificity regarding the definition of VT. Furthermore, existing VT interventions are generally self-care based and tend to focus on general stress management rather than addressing the specific effects of VT. Therefore, we call for an increase in efforts to tailor VT interventions to different service settings and participant characteristics, as well as greater attention to developing primary VT interventions at the organizational level.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Early online date9 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Mar 2021


  • domestic violence
  • intervention/treatment
  • memory and trauma
  • mental health and violence
  • PTSD
  • treatment
  • vicarious trauma


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