The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - 73

Secondary Trauma in RAs

. . . greater attention should be given
to tracking RA interactions with
residents experiencing trauma. . . .
Items that may be tracked include
number of student trauma cases,
the type of trauma support in which
the RA is engaged, and estimated
amount of daily or weekly time
devoted to trauma support work.

well-being of their RA staffs. Trainings may
focus on building awareness of the impact of
trauma; trauma events associated with higher
reports of secondary trauma; boundary setting,
particularly for RAs who may engage in higher
levels of trauma support; clear expectations
regarding the emotional labor components of
the RA position; and resources available for
student staff experiencing negative impacts
related to trauma support work.
Results of this study indicated that an RA's
length of service did not relate to self-reported
symptoms of secondary trauma; therefore,
only training new RAs may not be enough
to ensure that RAs do not develop secondary
trauma. Instead, trainings may be differentiated based on new and returning RA needs.
New RA training may focus on the theory and
symptomology of secondary traumatic stress,
while also creating personal wellness plans
(Sansbury, Graves, & Scott, 2015) to combat the
development of secondary trauma. Training
for returning RAs should briefly review topics
covered in new RA training but focus more on

debriefing them in terms of their past experiences supporting students through trauma
and revising personal wellness action plans.
Finally, in-service interventions may take
the form of support groups or debriefing sessions for RAs who have found themselves
supporting residents through traumatic life
events, particularly those identified in this
study as having differential impacts on the development of secondary trauma. While support
groups need not be led by certified mental
health counselors, group facilitation trainings
or partnerships with other offices such as the
college counseling center should be considered before engaging in such activities.

Resident assistant supervision. Previous
scholarship has indicated that positive supervisory relationships are related to reduced
reports of secondary trauma in RAs (Sorenson, 2018). The results of this study may
assist supervisors, and departmental leadership, in identifying specific ways they may
provide support to RA staff. Perhaps most
importantly, greater attention should be given
to tracking RA interactions with residents experiencing trauma. Given that a number of
work-related factors were demonstrated to be
related to self-reported symptoms of secondary trauma, tracking trauma support engagement may provide supervisors with real-time
information to make proactive interventions.
Tracking may occur in a variety of ways, from
formal surveys of RAs to informal inquiries during individual or group meetings.
Items that may be tracked include number
of student trauma cases, the type of trauma
support in which the RA is engaged, and estimated amount of daily or weekly time devoted
to trauma support work.
V O L U M E 4 6 , NO. 1 * 2 0 1 9

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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - Intro
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - Cover1
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - Cover2
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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - Contents
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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - Cover4
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