Vicarious Trauma?

by Annette Burns on March 7, 2008

Some of the most frequent questions I’m asked, especially by clients and non-family law attorneys are:  "How do you DO this work?"   "Do you take it home with you?"   "Does doing this work affect your personal life?"    My answers are usually something like "Well, someone has to."  "No." and "I don’t think so."     In other words, I don’t think about those questions in too much depth.

Fortunately we have colleagues who do think about those issues, and research them, and actually look for answers.  Arizona therapists Ellie Izzo and Vicki Carpel-Miller (who I am proud to call friends of mine) have collaborated on a new book and a new website on "Vicarious Trauma".    Vicarious Trauma Institute

This website isn’t a resource for our clients—it’s for us.  It’s for the professionals:  attorneys, therapists, judges, mediators, custody evaluators and others who regularly deal with high-conflict cases, divorces, and people.   VT is most succinctly described as "indirect exposure to trauma through a client’s firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event."   Does that sound at all familiar? I couldn’t even begin to count the number of traumatic events that have been recounted to me THIS WEEK.

Please read Vicki and Ellie’s great article "What is Vicarious Trauma or Second-Hand Shock"  Vicarious Trauma article  and familiarize yourself with this fascinating concept.    And take care of yourself.


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