Methods: This study utilized a mixed-methodological design to explore human service professionals’ STS, job satisfaction, burnout, and self-care options at the individual, organizational, and policy levels. Two phase explanatory-sequential approach was employed, following up the quantitative results with qualitative data: (1) quantitative data collection of STS score and job satisfaction, and (2) in-depth semi-structured interviews to explore the lived experiences of job burnout, motivation of job retention, and self-care options and policies among social workers including any desire for self-care training. This study used a purposive sampling via social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) for the phase one and for phase two social workers were recruited separated from the survey of phase one.
Results: Through the online survey, 92 human service professionals in education, social work, and criminal justice were participated in the study. Mean age of participants is 34.93 years old (SD=11.39), white (90.2 %), female (83.7%), and five + years of experiences (53.9%). HSPs regardless of settings are directly and indirectly experiencing traumatic events, such as multiple death in different reasons, abuse (e.g., physical, sexual, and emotional), and neglect. There are correlations between job satisfaction and STS total (-.559**) including three subscales (e.g., avoidance, intrusion, and arousal). Independent samples T-test indicated that lower STS score is related to higher job satisfaction, and high STS score is related to lower job satisfaction. As a result of intensive interviews with eight social workers, five themes are emerged, such as the high job stress with unrealistic workload, loss of initial passion as a helping professional, not clear self-care agency policy, self-prescribed self-care techniques, and inconsistent impact of COVID-19.
Conclusions and Implications: Although there are some study limitations, such as lack of diversity in gender and ethnicity and recruitment difficulty due to their busy schedule, findings suggested that understanding the impact of STS on job satisfaction is critical. Strategies in reducing STS and increasing job satisfaction include more support and supervision by experienced trauma specialists, reasonable distribution of the workload, and self-care training in the organizational level as well as accessible policies to provide adequate time off with social workers.