Vicarious Traumatization: The Impact of Nursing upon Nurses
The aims of this research were to explore mental health nurses' knowledge and experience of vicarious traumatization (VT). Literature linking mental health nursing and VT is sparse. VT is an enduring trauma that affects those who engage empathically across time and with different patients. Mental health nurses form ongoing therapeutic relationships with patients to foster healing. This empathic engagement leaves nurses vulnerable to VT. This project is qualitatively designed using narrative enquiry with in-depth, semistructured interviews of mental health nurses. Data gathered was thematically analysed and four main themes identified: the impact of VT; self-knowledge/self-awareness; self-care; and burnout. Participants in this study felt unprepared for the negative impact of mental health nursing and learned of VT 'on the job'. My recommendations include education on identifying VT, and self-care, including clinical supervision, to ameliorate the effects of VT. Further research is needed to explore the links between VT and mental health nursing.