Dr. Odelya Gertel Kraybill has been studying and researching the use of expressive arts with populations exposed to trauma in varying contexts since 2005 and effectiveness of training to address secondary trauma in caregivers since 2012.  In pilot research in Lesotho, she measured the effectiveness of the Expressive Trauma Integration model in a setting of individual consultations with aid personnel (see abstract below). In followup research in 2014, she measured the effectiveness of training, including ETI training, with groups of aid personnel in the Philippines as part of her PhD research at Lesley University.  


Abstract of the 2014 dissertation research: 

Existing studies indicate the widespread existence of secondary traumatic stress (STS) in aid personnel and suggest the need for preventive and response strategies.  This study examined the effectiveness of an integrated approach to reducing STS among aid personnel through a model that used psychoeducation, psychodrama, and cognitive behavioral resolution techniques.  Data were collected pre- and post-intervention with the Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL) (Stamm, 2009) and at a two-month follow-up (TMFU) for the intervention and control groups.  An analysis of variance test was used to evaluate whether the intervention group showed more change on ProQOL scores than did the control groups.  The results were not significant, indicating a small decrease in STS and burnout symptoms and a slight increase in compassion satisfaction.  However, results from the TMFU open questionnaire suggested that retention of learning was higher with the intervention group than with the active control group.

            This finding challenges the widely held assumption that training is an effective modality of support for aid personnel exposed to trauma and traumatized populations, and underscores the urgent need to conduct evidence-based study of the efficacy of training for STS mitigation.  The pilot research the author conducted (Gertel Kraybill, 2013) as antecedent to this dissertation, using the expressive trauma integration (ETI) model in a format of six individual sessions incorporating expressive therapy and psychoeducation, offers a promising alternative to existing STS training. 

            The reality of increasing natural disasters and conflicts means that the number of aid personnel exposed to traumatized populations is certain to grow, and aid agencies must, as a matter of priority, expand their understanding of what is effective in supporting trauma-exposed staff.


Gertel Kraybill, O. (2015). Experiential Training to Address Secondary Traumatic Stress in Aid Personnel. (Doctoral Dissertation). Lesley University, Cambridge, MA.