Therapy Chat Podcast Episode 24: Vicarious Trauma
Welcome! Today’s topic is one that’s important to therapy professionals and to first responders, too - for anyone who works with people who are suffering, Vicarious Trauma is important. I just attended a workshop on this topic by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, the author of Trauma Stewardship.
Here’s what you’ll hear in this episode:
- The terms Vicarious Trauma and Secondary Traumatic Stress are interchangeable as I'm using them here.
- Therapists bear witness to the traumatic stories of clients and are affected by them.
- The nature of therapy work requires empathy; it’s honorable, brave, and important work intended to make the world a better place.
- There are small ways to lessen the impact of trauma, by mindfully checking in with yourself and using positive coping methods.
- As a therapist, how much are you “numbing?” We discuss examples.
- Laura recommends spending 12-60 minutes each day, for six days a week, working out to the degree of breaking a sweat.
- We owe it to the people we help to take care of our Vicarious Trauma, and regular exercise is one way to do that.
- Isolation is common in trauma work, because we feel like “nobody understands.”
- The American Counseling Association lists several signs of Vicarious Trauma, including:
- Having difficulty talking about feelings
- Feeling diminished joy
- Feeling trapped by work
- Limited range of emotions
- Exaggerated startle reflex
- Trouble sleeping
- Conflict with other staff
- Trouble with intimacy
- Feeling withdrawn and isolated
- Impatience, apathy
- A change in worldview
- What can you do to make a difference?
- Have a mindful presence
- Exercise (12-60 min. several days each week)
- Cultivate connection with yourself and others
- Enrich your life by doing things you love, apart from work
- Make meaning
Trauma Stewardship by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky
I also shared information on my new community for trauma therapists! Registration begins soon and if you want to be notified when registration starts, you can sign up here!
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Laura Reagan, LCSW-C