Date of Graduation

Summer 8-31-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Michelle Montagno

Second Advisor

Dory Escobar

Third Advisor

Sara Horton-Deutsch


Therapists who work with traumatized populations are vulnerable to experiencing trauma indirectly. This experience may be exacerbated for those who have experienced trauma themselves. As LatAm immigrant populations have often experienced trauma at the various migration phases, therapists who are LatAm immigrants and work with LatAm immigrant clients may also experience secondary traumatization as an inherent part of their work. While the research on secondary trauma spans decades, there is a dearth of literature on the experiences of LatAm immigrant therapists specifically. This qualitative dissertation study begins the conversation of what the lived experiences of LatAm immigrant therapists are via interviews with eight participants. Findings analyzed through an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) method indicate that LatAm immigrant therapists consider aspects of their identities (e.g., being LatAm) and lived experiences (e.g., being immigrants) as facilitative and, at times, hindering to the therapeutic treatment. Regarding their experiences with secondary trauma responses (STRs), the participants describe how listening to their clients' migration trauma stories takes a toll on them and simultaneously provides opportunities for redemption. Lastly, factors influencing the participants' experiences reveal that while several factors increase their risk of experiencing problems at work (e.g., being the only Spanish-speaking therapist at an agency), they leverage protective, mitigating, and sustaining factors to continue engaging in the work. Such factors include grounding their work in a sense of purpose, embracing practices of care, and finding meaning in contributing to changing the mental health system.