Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - 72

Quality of Life
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Secondary Trauma
With the recognition of trauma and its wide-ranging effects came increased efforts
to assess for trauma. Societal openness to sharing and discussing one's traumatic experiences
in any capacity has led to a growing body of research about vicarious or
secondary trauma, which is the emotional distress experienced by a person not directly
impacted by an event, but instead by the experience of hearing about another person's
trauma (Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995). Research shows that people in professions that
are in the business of hearing or being a part of the worst moments of others' lives,
such as social workers, emergency medical professionals, and law enforcement professionals,
are disproportionately impacted by secondary trauma (Cieslak et al., 2014).
Compassion Fatigue
Secondary trauma is strongly connected to an increase in compassion fatigue, which
is different from burnout, though both can coexist. It is often seen when a professional
in a helping field begins to experience symptoms of distress that impact their ability to
do their work and perform related job duties.
Burnout
Burnout is a more cumulative process marked by emotional exhaustion and withdrawal.
It is not a direct product of trauma exposure in any capacity (Adams et al., 2006).
Poor management of either set of symptoms is problematic, but even more dangerous
when combined. However, those in a helping role who are stressed by the trauma they
encounter may also be victims of increased workloads and the lack of institutional
support that make burnout possible.
Direct exposure to trauma has been more heavily studied in recent decades, and
uncovering the impacts of indirect exposure to trauma is a newer endeavor. Thus, it is
critical for the helping professions to research the experiences of providers who may
carry their own trauma history and symptoms or may undergo vicarious trauma in
their jobs (Figley, 1993; Follette et al., 1994). Additional stressors can exponentially
increase the impact of trauma exposure. For this reason, there are several special considerations
related to the developmental stage of emerging adulthood.
CONSIDERATIONS IN EMERGING ADULTHOOD
Emerging adulthood is a phase of the lifespan that covers ages 18-25. After cultural
shifts that delayed marriage and childbirth in favor of pursuing higher education
and careers, the timeframe between high school and the jump into traditional family-focused
adulthood is considered to be the phase of emerging adulthood (Arnett,
2000). Due to the absence of distinct societal caregiving roles related to spousal and
parental relationships, emerging adults enter a unique life phase in which they have
relative independence from their families of origin but do not yet have the enduring
responsibilities characteristic of family formation in adulthood (Reifman et al., 2007).
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Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - intro
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