Vicarious Trauma

Vicarious or Secondary Trauma and its treatment is one of the topics that is near and dear to Don’s heart. Don has brought a passionate and practical presentation at numerous conferences and workshops over the years.

Briefly, Vicarious Trauma is the impact of witnessing someone else’s trauma. The witness isn’t experiencing the trauma first-hand, but because of a complex (and healthy) system of mirror neutrons in our brains the witness experiences the trauma event vicariously.

Compassion Fatigue is a different, but related syndrome that also negatively impacts professional helpers. Compassion Fatigue also deserves attention among helping professionals

Military personnel, first responders mental health workers and medical personnel are all vulnerable to this experience. In fact the very dynamics that make these professionals good at their job is what makes them vulnerable to Vicarious Traumatization.

Health professionals, First Responders, etc. got into their profession because they care and they want to help people. It is that empathy, that if not carefully managed, contributes to Vicarious Traumatization.

man wearing blue scrub suit and mask sitting on bench

As a psychotherapist who has been practicing for over 20 years, I recognize the risk for vicarious traumatization and compassion fatigue. As a student of interpersonal neurobiology I recognize what practical steps need to be taken to protect oneself, to recover if we become depleted, and what the systemic factors are that either contribute to these syndromes or inoculate the organization against them.

Contact Dr. Don today about speaking at your next event.

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