The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - 74

R. Jason Lynch

Supervisors may also engage RAs in regularly scheduled coaching conversations regarding boundary setting for those who have higher
caseloads of students experiencing trauma or
work with a greater sum of trauma types. Departmental leaders should consider creating
or revising policies regarding RA caseload and
support of students experiencing trauma. Policies may include mandatory screening by the
campus counseling center, or contracted counselor, for RAs who engage in certain types of
trauma support or reach a particular threshold
of time spent supporting students.

Future Scholarship
This study focused on a limited number of
work environment factors that may influence
development of secondary trauma. Other
work factors including level of supervision,
perceived organizational support, and organizational culture may be considered in future
studies. Additionally, scholars have suggested
that personal characteristics, including race,
gender, and sexual orientation, play a role in
stress responses in other helping professions
(Adams, Boscarino, & Figley, 2006; Connally,
2012; Sorsoli, 2007). Future research may consider how personal factors, in addition to work
environment factors, may impact development
of secondary trauma in RAs.
Furthermore, RAs are often part of larger
teams who work together to provide student
support in terms of community development.
One outcome of secondary trauma is a sense
of isolation or lack of social support (Hensel
et al., 2015). Scholars have also demonstrated
the positive impact of normalizing negative feelings associated with trauma support
work through peer and professional support
interventions (Bercier, 2013). Future studies
74

may focus on the impact of secondary trauma
within the context of RA teams, investigating
the impact of secondary trauma on team dynamics or vice versa.

Limitations
This study is not without limitations, and results
should be considered in light of these constraints. Most notably, this study was conducted
using a relatively small sample size, potentially
restricting generalizability of findings. This
limitation is also compounded as there is no
recorded description of the national population
of college and university resident assistants for
comparison. Additionally, the instrument used
in this investigation, the Secondary Trauma in
Resident Assistants Scale, is limited in that it is
not meant to diagnose secondary trauma; and
the prior existence of other mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, may
have impacted responses to specific items. The
STRAS is also restricted in the ability to analyze
specific aspects of training or types of trauma,
which may have impacted responses on the
survey. Finally, while this study suggests a relationship between trauma support work and secondary traumatic stress in RAs, this study was
not designed to infer causative relationships.

CONCLUSION
Supporting students who have experienced
trauma has increasingly become a part of
student support roles in the U.S. (Lynch, 2017;
Lynch & Glass, 2018; Read et al., 2011). Often
viewed as paraprofessional helping staff, RAs
are given tremendous responsibility, yet, as students themselves, they may experience harm
as a result of their duties. Other helping professions have indicated how trauma support
work may lead to potentially hazardous out-

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



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
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