Principles for secondary traumatic stress-responsive practice: An expert consensus approach

Brian E Bride, Ginny Sprang, Alison Hendricks, Cambria R Walsh, Françoise Mathieu, Karen Hangartner, Leslie A Ross, Patricia Fisher, Brian C Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Though research on secondary traumatic stress (STS) has greatly increased in the past decade, to date the field lacks a coherent set of guiding principles for practice that behavioral health providers and organizations can use to mitigate the occurrence and impact of STS. As such it is important to identify effective strategies, grounded in research and professional experience, to reduce the occurrence and impact of STS among behavioral health professionals and organizations.

METHOD: We conducted a four-stage modified Delphi survey. Thirty-one international STS experts were invited to participate, with a minimum of 19 responding in each round. Thematic analysis was conducted on qualitative data, which was incorporated into revisions of the principles.

RESULTS: Consensus was achieved on 14 principles, seven targeted at individual professionals, and seven targeted at organizations.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first effort to delineate principles for practice intended to reduce the occurrence and impact of STS in individual and organizational practice in behavioral health services. The principles are intended to inform best practices for individuals and organizations providing services to persons and communities who have experienced trauma and thereby improve the quality and effectiveness of services to traumatized populations. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
StateE-pub ahead of print - Aug 31 2023


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