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August 2020 Virtual Journal Club Session

August Journal Club

Welcome to the Center for Victim Research Virtual Journal Club for August 2020. (Learn more about the journal club and sign up to join us!)


For this session, our theme is Well-being for Victim Services Staff. We read:

‘The Only Way We’ll Be Successful’: Organizational Factors That Influence Psychosocial Well-Being and Self-Care Among Advocates Working to Address Gender-Based Violence by E. Çayir, M. Spencer, D. Billings, D.K. Hilfinger Messias, A. Robillard, & T. Cunningham. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2020. (Abstract)

  • Full-text will also be sent a week before the journal club session to those who signed up.
  • Let us know if you have issues accessing the article or logging into


Quick Tips on Reading Research Articles

Twitter Chat

We hosted a Twitter chat with one of the article authors, Dr. Ebru Çayir, on Wednesday August 5, 2-3pm EST. Dr. Çayir is a postdoctoral research associate with the Compassionate Care Initiative (CCI) at the University of Virginia, School of Nursing. Her research focuses on promoting mental health, well-being and resilience among caregiving professionals by adopting collective, diverse and inclusive approaches. More details on the CCI website. Review tips for participation and questions we posted: August Twitter Chat Guide & Questions Preview.

#CVRchat Moment on Victim Advocate Well-being


Below are discussion prompts for journal club members to think about and comment on. There are multiple ways to participate in discussion during August 3-7, 2020:


Discussion Prompts

  • What are common misconceptions you’ve heard when defining self-care? Did reading the article shift your perspective about psychosocial well-being & self-care in the workplace?
  • This study used Constructivist Grounded Theory. The researchers did not start with a preconceived hypothesis, but allowed themes to emerge based on participants’ views, and acknowledged multiple possible interpretations of the data. What do you think about this approach for capturing advocates’ viewpoints? What about this method did or did not work well?
  • The authors note “Due to the sensitive nature of the issues we examined…it is possible that advocates who felt comfortable about commenting on these issues self-selected into the study.” What might be some additional ways to capture the perspectives of more advocates in research?
  • One study participant discussed concerns about hiring staff based more on their degrees than on their “fit” in nonprofit environments that value employees’ well-being. What are benefits and challenges in the “professionalization” of victim services and in applying a business model to a human services organization?
  • The researchers discussed how “close-knit” organizational culture may provide advocates with social support systems; however, such structures can also risk violating personal boundaries. What efforts can victim services organizations make to build teamwork, while protecting staff members’ personal boundaries?
  • The study participants emphasized the need for open door policies, avenues for confidential feedback, and staff involvement in decision-making. How can organizations improve their responses to difficult feedback?
  • The researchers stress the critical need of organizations to support psychosocial well-being and self-care. What are your thoughts on study participants’ suggestions for institutional changes (flexible work schedules/locations, more vacation time, access to mental health services, collective efforts to improve health, debriefing sessions, and retreats) to support staff well-being? What challenges could prevent these changes from being implemented?
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5 responses to “August 2020 Virtual Journal Club Session”

  1. Niria Cristovao Jean-Louis says:

    Self-care is very important for advocates due to Vicarious Trauma. Resulting on emotional Fatigue and turnover.

    • Laura Puls says:

      Yes! I appreciate how this study lays out how organizational policies, leadership, and culture are vital in advocates’ ability to care for themselves – if the workplace itself isn’t supportive or caring about your work or allows rest, it’s difficult to keep going on your own passion.

  2. Elynne Greene says:

    I think this is a very important article because self-care has always been incumbent on the individual. How many times are you asked in an interview ” this can be a stressful position. How do you take care of yourself?” The real issue is how does the agency support and nurture self care from the top down. The study supports the value of self care as part of the workplace culture, rather than an after hours practice. Burnout is often reflected in the quality of interactions with the victims we work with.
    The real strewth in this article is that victim advocates’ viewpoint is considered. At the same time, it could be a weakness because it is not a control group, but rather a group of advocates (with valuable input) but their organizational culture and environment impacts the response. that could be diverse across the board. it is also subjective
    My last point is related to the recommendations. As a victim advocate in a management position, I agree with the need for flexibility to support the staff. (the happier and healthier the advocates are, the more impact they will have!) But operationally, there has to be a structure which often limits the flexibility in order to meet the needs of the victims. We see the challenges with more people working from home during COVID and delayed responses impacting victim care. The debriefing and retreats are an absolute way to build resiliency and internal support systems.

    • Laura Puls says:

      The real issue is how does the agency support and nurture self care from the top down….as part of the workplace culture, rather than an after hours practice.

      Such an important point, Elynne! I agree too about the difficulty in balancing the desire to support staff, with the realities of schedules and monetary resources and time restraints. One thing I came away with from the article is that basically, many advocates desire leadership qualities and recognition that don’t cost anything, and don’t take much time to demonstrate that employers value their staff and have their back!

  3. Elynne Greene says:

    That is the best take away! Acknowledgement in the form of training and support for developing leadership skills is an acknowledgement of the value of advocates and their role and impact.

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