George Guthrie

George Guthrie staff profile picture

School of Psychology
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Vicarious Resilience in Psychologists

Research Description
Vicarious Resilience in Psychologists Literature suggests that there are very high rates of exposure to trauma in those who access mental health services with some estimates as high as 90%. Psychologists who work in any context in New Zealand are likely to be exposed to some degree of secondary trauma, with rates increasing for those working in trauma specific services. Negative responses to this exposure such as secondary traumatic stress and burnout have been extensively investigated in the scientific literature. However, less attention has been given to positive consequences of trauma work or to what might support the development of such outcomes. This study is particularly interested in vicarious resilience in psychologists, which refers to personal and professional growth from working with clients who have had traumatic experiences. The construct has seven components: 1. Changes in life goals and perspectives 2. Client inspired hope 3. Increased self-awareness and self-care in the clinician 4. Increased personal and professional capacity for resourcefulness 5. Increased recognition of client's spirituality as a therapeutic tool 6. Increased consciousness of power dynamics in treatment and society 7. Increased capacity to remain present when listening to client's trauma narratives' To participate please visit

Research Importance
This project is important to both psychologists and their clients. Findings have implications for clinician wellbeing and the provision of responsible care which is an ethical requirement for all psychologists (Section 2.2.7 of The Code of Ethics for Psychologists).

Personal Description
I am enrolled in a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology at Massey University in Wellington. I previously worked for six years in an inpatient mental health unit as a psychiatric assistant and look forward to returning to public mental health once I have graduated. Thank you to the Franklin Business and Professional Women's Federation for their financial support toward my clinical training.

Dr Ian De Terte
Dr Ruth Tarrant
Professor Janet Leathem