Publication Date

Summer 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Patricia Desrosiers (Director), Rick Grieve, Timothy Thornberry, and Renae Duncan

Degree Program

Doctor of Psychology in Applied Psychology

Degree Type

Doctor of Psychology


This study evaluated secondary traumatic stress (STS) levels in 89 employees from Kentucky’s 15 regional domestic crisis programs to determine whether certain demographic variables predicted STS levels (as measured by the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale©) and whether employee perception of organizational trauma-informed care practices (as measured by the Ticometer©) reduced levels of STS. Results of a multiple regression analysis indicated that personal trauma history severity did significantly impact STS levels. In this way, the current study rejected the null hypothesis. Results also indicated that the more the employee perceived the organization to adopt and execute trauma-informed care practices, the lower the employee’s levels of STS. Specifically, Domain Four of the Ticometer© (fostering trauma-informed service delivery) contributed significantly to reduction in STS levels, thereby rejecting the null hypothesis. While the study was limited due to the specificity of the sample as well as its small size and limited gender diversity, it is rich with practical application for leaders of human services organizations charged with caring for trauma survivors and staff member likely exposed to high levels of trauma content. Since much of the research on STS is confined to only licensed, direct service providers, this study offers critical information on the effects of STS on all agency employees and sheds light on the responsibility organizations have to both understand and practice trauma-informed care.


Clinical Psychology | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | Health Psychology