Identifying Cumulative Harm in Helping Professionals: A Measure of Impact

PhD Thesis


Bryce, India. 2022. Identifying Cumulative Harm in Helping Professionals: A Measure of Impact . PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/x8zx4
Title

Identifying Cumulative Harm in Helping Professionals: A Measure of Impact

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorsBryce, India
Supervisor
1. FirstProf Gavin Beccaria
2. SecondProf Peter McIlveen
2. SecondDr Jan du Preez
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages420
Year2022
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/x8zx4
Abstract

The impact of accumulated adverse childhood events, known as cumulative harm often results in lifelong consequences, including complex trauma. The pervasive effects of cumulative harm may influence all aspects of an individual’s life course, including relationships, parenting strategies and career decisions. The primary objectives of this research were to a) examine the lived experience of cumulative harm from the perspective of those who have experienced it first-hand, b) investigate the influence of cumulative harm on career choice, and c) develop a scale for the identification and assessment of cumulative harm and its impact. Initially, the gap in the literature was synthesised and clarified using a Systematic Literature Review in Study 1. Then two further studies were conducted using an exploratory sequential mixed methods (ESMM) approach. Firstly, in Study 2, a qualitative study using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to explore the lived experience of cumulative harm in adults and understand its influence in the context of preservice helping professionals. Then, following an inductive-deductive mixed-methods cycle, Study 3 used quantitative measures to confirm the relationships identified in the qualitative phase and to validate the findings proposed and the scale developed. The intention of this strategy was to determine if qualitative themes can be generalised to a larger sample. The findings of this study reveal that cumulative harm influences career choice in the helping professions through the impact it has on the development of the individual, particular through the formation of identity conclusions and self-concept. Cumulative harm also influences career decision-making through a desire to make meaning of trauma, to find value in trauma, and to remediate the trauma experienced. Accumulated childhood adversity also influences career choice through the development of characteristic adaptations such as advocacy and insight, as well as skills, interests and preferences developed through their trauma. Career choice has in fact a powerful remedial influence on cumulative harm which can ameliorate and mitigate the lifelong deleterious impacts of childhood trauma. Through vocational decision-making, life, career and trauma narratives converge to foster a reauthoring experience. Identity conclusions that are formed through cumulative harm construct a life narrative that then influences the ensuing career narrative. Then, the way that the participants use, adapt to, and find value in their trauma reshapes their life narrative and can promote growth, and healing and has a remedial effect on their sense of self. This reauthoring then contributes to a new territory of identity.

KeywordsCumulative harm; career choice; vocational behaviour; helping professions; childhood trauma; reauthoring
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020520303. Counselling psychology
390104. English and literacy curriculum and pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
440902. Counselling, wellbeing and community services
Public Notes

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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Psychology and Wellbeing
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