THESIS ORAL DEFENSE GUIDE
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2007 in KTCH 217
15min. Introduce your study
Briefly discussing why you did this project
*The majority of the time should be dedicated to your findings and their connection to existing literature
Discuss the MAJOR ones –that you used to organize your data selection
WHY I DID THIS PROJECT . . .
Well, I volunteered for a non-profit organization for three years as an undergrad, and was a trained and certified rape crisis hotline counselor. I took anywhere between 2-4 12hr shifts a month and attended monthly team meetings and monthly supergroup meetings. I initially didn’t consider writing an honors thesis until Professor Brown had mentioned that my sociology research methods paper would be a good starting point for an honors thesis. So I decided to take my original study on emotion management strategies used by rape crisis hotline counselors and expanded it to illustrate a bigger picture and incorporate additional perspectives on emotion management and theory that I didn’t have the time to write about during a single semester.
I wrote this paper because it was something that I could do to better understand my own experiences as well as the experiences of those closest to me. Writing this paper has deepened my understanding and knowledge about secondary trauma and what I can do as a secondary to help those around me in pain and help them to move past the trauma and be aware of how I can be the better support system and how to be more willingly to accept the support from others, and know that its okay if I need help and that I don’t have to helping
everyone and continue ignoring or looking at myself and what I can do to better manage my emotions and have healthier interactions with others and be able to more effectively communicate my needs and my feelings to my support systems. I’ve realized that by focusing on myself, doesn’t mean that I’m being selfish, but shows that I am aware of my own inadequacies and want to improve myself and strengthen my abilities. I’ve learned that accepting help from others and facing what I fear most has been the only way for me to grow and move past those periods when I find myself stifled and afraid to fail. I’ve found that in sharing my experiences with others, I have received more positive feedback than negative, and wish to help others be more accepting of themselves and that the better they understand themselves the easier it will become to go to others. Rather than allow our perceived differences to keep us from making strong interpersonal bonds and connections with others whose support may be what we need.
MAJOR FINDINGS . . .
1) What impact on your data does not having interviewed volunteers after
they left SASA have on your findings?
Due to the fact that I did not interview participants that had left during the time of this study, my findings cannot confirm the truth of why they left, and my findings are based on their responses to questions regarding any strain, difficulty, or
stress they experienced during their time at SASA. Therefore the majority of my findings and the conclusions I have drawn from my data analysis are based on my subjective interpretation of their responses in addition to an objective look at the existing research on vicarious trauma in order to draw logical conclusions as to what some of the potential causes could have most likely been. I basically used my literature review to establish a certain number or premises, reviewing a variety of literature to gain some perspective and be able to establish my conclusions based on the evidence existing as well as my interviews to confirm these possibilities.
2) What do you think are the keys to effective emotion management?
Family, unlike support systems comprised on friends and team members functions in a much different way. They are expected to provide unconditional support to their loved ones, however when these systems fail, individuals must also have secondary support systems other than they ones they are used to going to for help. Individuals must be willing to ask for help and at the same time be surrounded by those who want to help and share similar motivations and a desire to help others, even if it means finding support for themselves. Support systems should be there to support, not fix. They are an individual’s buffers to falling, and should someone need them, they are there unconditionally for them.
4) Additional Support for Parson’s General Theory of Action
“The culture of an organization, and the people in charge of its structure, dictates how individuals work together and the level of support they receive from one another. The general goals of the organization are to provide support to victims, however must be weary of undermining the significance of the support they give to their providers. The “Parsons’ General Theory of Action provides a framework for linking emotions to organizational action” (Callahan 2002:282). Callahan applies this theory of action and its four functions: adaptation, goal attainment, integration, and latent maintenance. According to Callahan Parsons’ General Theory of Action helps one to understand the complex social systems that make-up organizations and their ability to achieve their greatest potential for change.” (CH.5-Pg.91) *ELABORATE*
How effectively organizations can help others is often based on how well they perform the following functions. If they can establish these sets of standards within the organization, then as a whole they will be more prepared and better able to assist others and provide adequate support. Callahan (2002) differentiates non-profit organizations from other kinds, “by a common value- driven goal” shared by its members that is reinforced by a specific type of “pattern-maintenance . . . that serve the larger society in the sense that they are based upon the institutionalization of values” (Parsons 1956 in Callahan 2002: 282).
Callahan (2002) discusses how the emotions that generate an organizations structure can potentially form a barrier to organizational change. Callahan (2002) asserts that cultural forces must be assessed in addition to individual and organizational elements forming “emotion structuration” within non- profit organizations. According to Callahan “emotions act as the ‘primary signaling system that organizes interactions’ among individuals in social systems,” whereby how well individuals and organizations develop techniques for managing emotions determines their ability to undergo “an organizational change efforts” (282).
Defining the four functions of Parsons’ General Theory of Action (Callahan 2002)
5) Expand findings on organizational transitions. “Organizational Transitions”
Organizational transitions occur, partially as a result of individuals coming and going, but is also related to changes occurring within society and among outside members. As society evolves and the individuals within them change, so does the role of the therapist and hotline counselor in responding to victims of trauma. From a sociological perspective, changes occurring within society can have a tremendous effect on the individual sense of self, depending on the mechanisms of which they have to successfully cope with these changes. As culture changes, people change, and new problems associated with those changes arise. In lieu of the major catastrophes that have struck our nation in recent years, researchers have begun to question the effectiveness of the care provided by first respondents and those in the mental health care professions and the level of preparation they have in the event of an emergency. Researchers have only begun to assess what adjustments need to be made to current training requirements among mental health care professionals and first respondents (i.e. hotline counselors) and how to deal with these newly arising social problems to help others address and cope with their present circumstances (Zimering, Rose, Munroe, James and Gulliver, and Bird 2003). (CH.5-Pg.89)
Therefore, organizations have an obligation to be aware of the cultural changes and how it is affecting the culture and environment within the organization. Especially understanding how added strain from societal judgments and dealing with victim blaming in the news affects the volunteer and their sense of agency and capacity to make change and be apart of positive change within their community. Which reinforces the value and significance of on-going education and training in helping professions such as therapist and hotline counselors, so that they are prepared to respond to these changes and at the same time reinforces their awareness of current events and issues and how what they do is an integral part of this social movement. Knowledge from one’s experiences as well as the experiences of others helps build one’s awareness which is key to reinforcing the volunteer and advocates sense of purpose within the organization and gives them a feeling of importance that they are apart of a larger whole trying to help influence positive changes within the community and in the world.
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Leslie A. Fischman