The role of empathy and cognitive trauma processing in the occurrence of professional posttraumatic growth among women working with victims of violence
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University of Lodz, Łódź, Poland (Institute of Psychology, Department of Health Psychology)
Online publication date: 2022-08-04
Corresponding author
Paulina Michalska   

University of Lodz, Institute of Psychology, Department of Health Psychology, ul. Smugowa 10/12, 91–433 Łódź, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2022;35(6):679-92
Objectives: Professionals helping victims of violence trauma, in addition to a number of negative effects, may also experience positive changes in the form of vicarious posttraumatic growth (VPTG). Cognitive trauma processing and empathy seem to be important to VPTG. The aim was to determine the relationship between empathy, cognitive trauma processing and VPTG in female professionals helping violence victims. Material and Methods: The study included 154 women representing 3 professional groups (therapists, social workers, probation officers). The subjects’ age ranged 26–67 years (M±SD 43.98±10.83). The study used 3 standard measurement tools, i.e. the Secondary Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, the Empathic Sensitiveness Scale, measuring 3 aspects of empathy, i.e. empathic concern, personal distress and perspective taking, the Cognitive Processing of Trauma Scale, allowing assessment of 5 remedial strategies (positive cognitive restructuring, downward comparison, resolution/acceptance, denial, regret) and a survey developed for the use of the research. Results: Positive correlations were found between empathy, cognitive coping strategies and VPTG. Positive cognitive restructuring and resolution/acceptance strategies were found to mediate the relationship between empathy and VPTG. Conclusions: Professionals helping trauma victims may experience positive effects in the form of VPTG. The occurrence of VPTG in female professionals is enhanced by the use of empathy and positive coping strategies. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2022;35(6):679–92
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