Janet Fultz

Suicide Postvention: Supporting Social Work Clinicians and Mental Health Professionals in Eastern Kentucky

Janet Fultz is a doctoral candidate of social work and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Before pursuing her Doctorate, she earned her Bachelor of Social Work from Morehead State University in 2000. She earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Kentucky in 2005. Currently, she is attending the University of Kentucky’s Doctor of Social Work Program with an expected graduation date of May 2023.

Ms. Fultz has been a social worker for the past 21 years in multiple roles and has worked with various agencies in the Eastern Kentucky area. Ms. Fultz has primarily worked as a Clinical Social Worker and therapist. Ms. Fultz worked for several years in an Emergency Department at a Hospital that served the Tri-State area. In that time, Ms. Fultz became more informed and dedicated to working with victims of trauma both as patients and as the front-line care providers. Ms. Fultz taught Bachelor level and Master level Practicum Students while training new Social Workers in the Emergency Department. Ms. Fultz understands the importance of helping students and new social workers understand trauma from both perspectives from the patient’s and the possible vicarious trauma providers can experience.

Ms. Fultz worked as a Community Therapist and Certified Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment Specialist and Assessor for the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice working with 12–19-year-old Adolescents in the Department of Juvenile Justice System. Presently, Ms. Fultz is contracted with a local community mental health agency as a school-based therapist serving the population of ages from Head Start through Middle School with children experiencing a variety of mental health and behavioral challenges.

In the previous positions, Ms. Fultz observed and developed interest in vicarious trauma and secondary traumatic stress in providers presented with traumatic experiences by clients and patients on a regular basis through their occupation. In contrast, the culture of the rural Eastern Appalachian area began to emerge as a theme of reasoning that many of these providers were not seeking mental health postvention services for themselves. Ms. Fultz observed social work clinicians and mental health providers exhibiting symptoms of vicarious trauma and some even experiencing more trauma in their personal lives without receiving any postvention services. There was relatively little research conducted on effects of trauma and suicide on social workers and the rural Eastern Kentucky culture. Ms. Fultz recognized the capstone project as a purpose to research and propose a creation of a therapeutic approach to postvention services, integrating Interpersonal theory of suicide and postvention services for social work clinicians and mental health providers in rural eastern Kentucky.