Self-care

In the course of working hard to make a difference in the lives of Survivors of Torture, treatment programs often overlook, or do not know how to recognize and respond to the pervasive impact of this work on staff and the organization. While individual and professional self-care can help to reduce the effects of the “costs of caring,” organizational culture plays a key role in this process.

Direct services providers may be most at risk, but leadership should be mindful that others can be affected as well. And while systems for monitoring vicarious or secondary trauma are (or should be) in place for direct services providers at centers and programs, those systems are generally not in place for other staff – another reason for leadership to be mindful.

This section of the website presents information about how the nature of work with survivors of torture can influence staff and organizational well-being, and shares resources for individuals and organizational leadership to prevent Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma.

Burnout and Stress Among United States Immigration Judges

Lustig, S.L., Delucchi, K., Tennakoon, L., Kaul, B., Marks, D.L., & Slavin, D. (2008). Burnout and Stress Among United States Immigration Judges. Bender's Immigration Bulletin, 13, 22-36.

Abstract: Immigration Judges (IJs), whose enormous caseloads consist of one horrific story of human suffering after another, are at risk for stress and burnout, conditions which make adjudicating cases that much more challenging.

Burnout, Vicarious Traumatization, and Its Prevention

Pross, C. (2006). Burnout, Vicarious Traumatization, and Its Prevention. Torture, 16 (1), 1-9. 

Abstract: Previous studies on burnout and vicarious traumatization are reviewed and summarized with a list of signs and symptoms. From the author's own observations two histories of caregivers working with torture survivors are described which exemplify the risk, implications and consequences of secondary trauma.

Caring for the Caregiver: Avoiding and Treating Vicarious Traumatization

Bloom, S.L. (2003). Caring for the Caregiver: Avoiding and Treating Vicarious Traumatization. In A. Giardino, E. Datner, & J. Asher (Eds.) Sexual Assault, Victimization Across the Lifespan (pp. 459-470). Maryland Heights, MO: GW Medical Publishing.  

Exploring the Impact of Trauma on Therapists: Vicarious Resilience and Related Concepts in Training

An integrative training framework articulating multiple perspectives on the impact of trauma work is offered with a training/supervision exercise to address the complex and systemic relationships that affect therapists in both positive and negative manners. The concepts of vicarious trauma, vicarious resilience, compassion fatigue, resilience, posttraumatic growth, altruism born of suffering, and reciprocity are reviewed.

Healthy Organizations: Beyond Individual Self-Care

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Burnout, secondary trauma, vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue may be intimately familiar to clinicians, but they can also intersect in ways that seriously impact organizations. Torture affects us all. How do you stay healthy while doing this work? What organizational mechanisms and policies should be in place to promote wellness? What tools are available to measure organizational health?

Organizational Prevention of Vicarious Trauma

Bell, H., Kulkarni, S., & Dalton, L. (2003). Organizational Prevention of Vicarious Trauma. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 84 (4), 463-470.

Abstract: For the past 30 years, researchers and practitioners have been concerned about the impact of work stress experienced by social workers. Although research on burnout has been a useful field of exploration, a new concern has arisen about work stresses specifically associated with work with victims of trauma. The concept of vicarious trauma provides insights into the stresses of this particular kind of work.

Preventing Vicarious Trauma: What Counselors Should Know When Working with Trauma Survivors

Trippany, R.L., White Kress, V.E., & Wilcoxon, S.A. (2004). Preventing Vicarious Trauma: What Counselors Should Know When Working with Trauma Survivors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 82 (Winter), 31-37. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6678.2004.tb00283.x.

Abstract: Counselors in all settings work with clients who are survivors of trauma. Vicarious trauma, or counselors developing trauma reactions secondary to exposure to clients' traumatic experiences, is not uncommon.

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