Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec


Social Work


Dealing with client death in the social service profession impacts the workers that provide client services. This experience can be stressful and may lead to secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout among social service workers. These effects may also lead to higher rates of staff turnover in agency settings. The purpose of this study was to provide insight into how those working in social services process the death of a client, how this experience affects them, what supports are available and utilized, and how they view these supports. In this mixed method study there were a total of 40 participants, who mostly worked in the area of mental health, and shared both statistical data and personal experiences with client loss. The most present type of client death was due to unexplained medical causes, which supports the use of a holistic model when providing services to those with mental health diagnoses. Self-care was identified as one of the most helpful coping strategies used by professionals when dealing with this type of client loss as well as an underrepresentation of employees in this field that have had training in this area. Respondents also identified that agency support was beneficial when they experienced it and mostly view this support positively when impacted by the death of a client.

Included in

Social Work Commons