Helping the helpers: Post-traumatic distress and need for help among Israeli social workers in foster care agencies following armed conflict

Miriam Schiff*, Rachel Dekel, Ohad Gilbar, Rami Benbenishty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the associations between exposure to armed conflict, perceived support, work experience, needing help, and post-traumatic distress among Israeli social workers in foster care agencies based on Conservation of Resources theory. The study used a mixed-methods design. Six months after the end of an armed conflict, 82 social workers responded to a web-based questionnaire with closed- and open-ended questions. Results showed that exposure to the armed conflict was moderately associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms and functional impairment. Only the workers' perceived need for personal help (but not help for professional matters) was positively associated with their psychological distress. The qualitative analysis suggests that social workers showed strengths and wanted help mainly to improve their professional skills. Yet they also elaborated on the complexities involved in conducting their professional work, especially home visits, because such visits put their own lives in danger and meant deserting their own families. Practice implications are as follows: Foster care agencies should make greater efforts to provide knowledge and skills, support, supervision, and a “safe haven” for their workers, in the context of armed conflict.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)466-474
Number of pages9
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Keywords

  • PTSD
  • armed conflict
  • foster care
  • needing help
  • shared trauma
  • social workers

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