Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Laura Wood


Vicarious trauma can exist in the therapeutic space shared between the clinician or therapeutic helper and their client. Based on the combined readings of Johnson (2009) and Armstrong et al. (2015), the physical and figurative embodiment of a client’s trauma provides interesting implications for the clinicians and therapeutic helpers involved in the shared therapeutic space. Informed by a drama therapy paradigm, this thesis explores how clinicians and therapeutic helpers have been impacted by their encounters within therapeutic alliances, including how they may have internalized trauma through verbal and physical embodiment in their work. Two 75-minute drama therapy sessions were scheduled with five clinicians and therapeutic helpers working in the areas of community violence and homicide. The results of the intervention indicated that clinicians and therapeutic helpers shift between multiple roles to cope with the vicarious trauma they encounter. The intervention has potential implications regarding the self-awareness of the clinician or therapeutic helper, as well as examining how rates of burn out and compassion fatigue are affected by embodiment of vicarious trauma.

Creative Commons License

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




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