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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sharon Rallis

Second Advisor

Daniel Gerber

Third Advisor

Sara Whitcomb

Subject Categories

Counseling | Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration | Psychology | Social Work | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


Residence Directors, as a result of repeated exposure to their students' trauma, are prone to developing compassion fatigue. Research on the use of college-based Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) has been shown to foster collaboration, consultation, and increased stress debriefing among staff who respond to critical incidents on campus. CISM can teach Residence Directors means of recognizing work-related triggers, contribute to the normalization of stress reactions, and improve healthy coping and self-care strategies. CISM can also potentially help reduce or diminish the incidence of compassion fatigue and burnout, thereby improving Residence Directors' overall professional and personal quality of life and their resilience within the field of student affairs. Nonetheless, CISM is not widely used among all college and university settings, although it is oftentimes used as a foundation for many campuses' crisis response protocols. My study describes the utility of CISM at an Upstate New York-based college which intentionally opts to include Residence Life Staff in its training and CISM-based crisis intervention practices. I examine the scope of Residence Life Staff's involvement in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and gauge the impact of CISM-based strategies on staff's reported levels of secondary stress, burnout, and/or compassion satisfaction.