As TRE Providers, we see powerful results on a regular basis, but nothing speaks louder than hard data. We recently conducted a 10-week program for 74 clinical and administrative staff at a community mental health organization. Due to the demanding nature and context of this work, staff often experience high rates of psychological stress, burnout, and secondary trauma. So we decided to measure just how staff was doing on these variables before and after the TRE program using two widely used and well-validated research instruments (the Perceived Stress Scale 10 and Professional Quality of Life 5). We added compassion satisfaction to the assessment, because it is widely known to mitigate some of the costs of caregiving. And we also conducted a content analysis of the qualitative program evaluation.
The participants received theoretical and experiential TRE instruction in group settings at weekly intervals over a 10-week period, for a total of 7 contact hours. We provided education on the biopsychosocial effects of the stress-trauma continuum at the first session. Each session involved demonstration and practice of the TRE movement sequence and participants were encouraged to independently practice TRE at home.
All along the program facilitators heard good reports from participants, so we were expecting some excellent results by the program’s end. But when the statistician, John Hughes PhD, ran the numbers, the outcomes exceeded everyone’s expectations. There was a statistically significant increase in compassion satisfaction, and decreases in perceived stress, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. For those who like the numbers, the p values were all less than .009 (see Table 1). Qualitative data showed participants experienced relaxation, greater equanimity, less pain, and more capacity (see Table 2 for participants’ quotes). A mixed-method program evaluation demonstrated high satisfaction rates, with participants stating that the program skills and information were useful for their personal and work lives. 22% requested longer weekly sessions and/or a longer program entirely. As one participant requested, “Make it a longer process. I enjoyed it too much.”
Overall the program was so successful, that the organization has hired us to run another 10-week program, and is sending 6 staff members to be certified. Hard data does indeed speak volumes!