Vicarious Resilience Among Ethnic Minority Counsellors Working with Attempted Genocide Survivors

  • Author / Creator
    Burgos Cando, Mikaela
  • Survivors of attempted genocide are persecuted for their ethnic, racial, national, and/or religious identities (United Nations, n.d.a). Throughout the migration journey, genocide survivors are exposed to various forms of violence and trauma (Rieder & Elbert, 2013). Despite the potential negative effects of trauma, there is a variability of responses to adversity among genocide survivors (Hedglen, 2016) which suggest possibilities for resilience. Racialized and ethnically diverse mental health practitioners working with genocide survivors are likely to share experiences of having their own racial and ethnic identities threatened through experiences of racism, discrimination and systemic oppression (Lipscomb & Ashley, 2020). In light of research highlighting the resilience of genocide survivors, it is possible that these mental health practitioners can also experience vicarious resilience, or positive identity and practice transformations after bearing witness to survivors’ stories of overcoming adversity (Hernandez et al., 2007). This qualitative study used basic interpretive inquiry to explore experiences of vicarious resilience among racialized and ethnically diverse mental health practitioners who have worked with resilient attempted genocide survivor clients within a counselling setting. Five self-identified racialized and ethnically diverse mental health practitioners participated in semi-structured interviews regarding their experiences. Thematic analysis of their disclosures revealed that intersections between their own identities and those of their clients led to: (a) increased attachment to and connection with their own ethnic group, heritage, and history; (b) an increased appreciation of their ethnic identity and its role in their lives and functions as a source of strength and resilience; and (c) shifts in professional practice and priorities towards trauma-informed care, assistance with removing systemic barriers, and greater political participation, education and advocacy regarding racism, discrimination, and microaggressions.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.