International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Student Perspectives: Client Violence and the Working Alliance

11/01/2018
by Josianne Lamothe
Client violence poses a significant challenge to professionals in the fields of health care and social services. According to two systematic reviews, anywhere from 2 to 32 percent of healthcare workers and 2 to 34 percent of child protection workers will be physically assaulted by a patient/client at least once over the course of one year (Pompeii, Dement, Schoenfisch, Lavery, Souder, Smith, & Lipscomb, 2013; Robson, Cossar, & Quayle, 2014). These prevalence rates, however, do not include the number of instances when caring professionals simply felt afraid while interacting with clients. For example, 50 percent of child protection workers say they are confronted with at least one hostile or intimidating client each week (Littlechild, Hunt, Goddard, Cooper, Raynes, & Wild, 2016). Statistics like these illustrate how difficult it is for professionals to balance personal safety and compassion in a single encounter.

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