Human Services Network of Colorado

Understanding and Mitigating Vicarious Trauma

  • 01/21/2020
  • 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Denver Rescue Mission's Administration & Education Building, 6100 Smith Road, Denver, CO 80216
  • 46


Registration is closed

Do you tear up when you watch a sad movie? Feel emotionally effected by the lyrics of a song? Weep when watching a “soldiers coming home” video on YouTube? You are not alone. Many of us cry tears of joy or sadness for people we have never met and have emotionally charged reactions to events that are not directly connected to us- even if we don’t realize it. To feel connected is a trait inherent in us all and there is nothing wrong with having those emotional reactions. Vicarious trauma is not one response to one person- but a response to multiple different people, stories, events, and situations. So, what happens when those events, traumatic in nature, seep into our lives and affect us in our day to day? Over time we can feel emotional, burned out, and an overwhelming sense of fatigue. Vicarious trauma can affect the way we do our work, the way we feel about others, and change how we respond to stressors both in the work place and out.

When working with people who are in the midst of personal crisis, trauma, or emotional distress, it is common to eventually exhaust yourself from vicarious trauma (aka secondary trauma or compassion fatigue). This workshop is focused on ways to exercise self-care and self-compassion for human services professionals. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with the care that you would offer a close friend. We will discuss the benefits of self-compassion and how to cope with caregiver fatigue. We will also talk about how to incorporate self-compassion into everyday life. We encourage you to fight caregiver fatigue by taking this time to learn to care for yourself at this enjoyable, interactive workshop.

Participants will learn about the impact of traumatic stress on the brain and on the body. Concepts of vicarious trauma, secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout will be addressed. Finally, we will explore organizational and personal strategies that can be employed to mitigate the effects of secondary traumatic stress.

Causes of vicarious trauma

Your clients may have experienced trauma associated with childhood abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault or other violent crimes, disasters, war, forced migration, or even political torture. Vicarious traumatic stress is now recognized as an occupational hazard of providing direct services to populations with histories of trauma. Vicarious trauma involves a transformation which occurs in the inner experience of the human services practitioner as a result of empathetic engagement with their clients' traumatic experiences. The emotional costs of caring for clients with histories of trauma can be significant, including the loss of personal and professional resiliency. A growing body of research evidence has demonstrated that secondary traumatic stress has the potential to erode work performance, undermine motivation and morale, and adversely impact the personal health of the practitioner.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Understand empathy and its role with vicarious trauma;
  • Gain a theoretical understanding of secondary / vicarious trauma;
  • Be able to identify symptoms in yourself and others and know how to access help;
  • Understand what predicts Vicarious Trauma;
  • Become aware of causes and consequences in order to help decrease vulnerability;
  • Practice self-administered stress reduction relaxation techniques; and
  • Become empowered to help support yourself and others.

Presenter: Tracy L. Hutchinson, LPC, MAC

Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Master Addictions Counselor (MAC), and Colorado Addictions Counselor (CAC III). She has been working in the field of Addictions and Mental Health for the past 40 years. Currently, through her Counseling and Consulting private practice, Tracy is an approved OBH trainer for Colorado Addictions Counselor (CAC) courses. She is a facilitator of professional growth and development for team building. Additionally, she creates and facilitates experiential/expressive personal growth retreats. Tracy was the author, narrator and co-producer of Levels Meditation, produced in 2001.

Eligible for 7 CEUs

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