A qualitative exploration of vicarious trauma and resilience of peer support workers from Dublin Fire Brigades critical incident stress management (CISM) team

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Gilbert, Brian
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of vicarious trauma, resilience and post traumatic growth through the experiences of peer support workers in Dublin Fire Brigade. These men and women carry out the dual role of firefighter/paramedic, as well as a voluntary role of peer support worker. A sample group of five peer support workers were interviewed using semi-structured interviews, and a thematic analysis was used to analyse the information gained during the interview process. The study found that previous experience of traumatic incidents enhanced the participant’s ability to carry out the role of peer supporter, while at the same time carrying out their duties as a firefighter/paramedic. Resilience and post traumatic growth were found to increase, due to the shared experiences of firefighters working within a team environment. It was also found that supports that are in place for peer support workers are at a minimal and need improvement, particularly from senior management. Expectations from firefighters and role clarity was also found to be an issue of concern for peer support workers.