Vicarious Trauma Mitigation is a very important topic for every individual who works with people who have experienced trauma. It is essential for any agency or organization working with trauma to institutionalize Vicarious Trauma Mitigation.
It is a shared relationship between the agency and the individual doing the front line work. They must work together in consistency and transparency.
According to: The Brain – The Story of You
–by David Eagleman
When discussing the type of work we do (the process of working with the pain of others), Mr. Eagleman observed that the neurons in our brain do not recognize the difference between the pain we feel for others and the pain we experience ourselves. As much as we try , we cannot avoid a negative and personal impact from working with those who have experienced trauma, pain and tragedy- we can only mitigate it.
The science is crystal clear. Our brains and our lives are changed by the work we do. We must, therefore, intentionally take care of ourselves while helping others-making Self-Care an ethical obligation.
When first responders do not practice a high degree of self-care, they risk further victimizing the clients they had the intention of serving.
We have had several people who have experienced crime victimization tell us that “Working with the system was worse than the actual traumatic event”. This is called “Secondary Victimization”, we believe that vicarious trauma mitigation and holistic self-care can decrease Secondary Victimization.
The people we serve deserve to work with professionals who are healthy, educated, experienced, compassionate and committed to Trauma Informed Response and Care.
TED Talks: The Importance of Self-Care
As an ethical obligation, a Trauma Informed Agency or Organization will strive to create a culture of responsible, holistic self-care. Agencies and Organizations should institutionalize “Self-Care” and Vicarious Trauma Mitigation through: board/ leadership approved, written and highly accessible policies, procedures and protocols.
CLICK Here: The Office for Victims of Crime
Vicarious Trauma Toolkit
In order to really practice effective Self- Care, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to push our egos aside and “see” where we need to focus our efforts.
Self-Care in this context is about us, but it also (and very importantly) about the clients that we serve.
Again, they deserve to work with first responders who are healthy, professional, practicing Trauma Informed Response and Care and willing to continue educating themselves.
TED Talk: Brene Brown:
The power of Vulnerability
TED Talk: Compassion and the True
Meaning of Empathy
Managing Stress Through Mindfulness:
How are you doing?
Below are several tools that you can use to measure either yourself on an individual level or to measure your agency/organization.
There is a difference between “Self-Care” and “Self-Comfort”.
Self-Care has a positive long term impact. Self-Comfort may feel good immediately, but may have a negative long term impact.
Yoga after work: Self- Care
A bottle of wine after work: Self-Comfort
Cooking fried chicken: Self-Care
Eating fried chicken: Self-Comfort
Venting with a designated co-worker: Self-Care
Gossiping with a co-worker: Self-Comfort
Smoking and drinking whiskey: Self-Comfort
“Self Care is more than a bubble bath”
Self-Care is a very “individual” practice. It is essential for agencies/organizations to understand that each person has to develop their own self-care plan. I use a journal to keep track of my self-care, however apps can work well too (again- it is an individual practice).
What works for one person will drive another person crazy! So create a system that allows for each individual to create a holistic self-care plan and opportunities to share their progress regularly with their trauma trained supervisors.
To begin exploring holistic self-care, we recommend:
Create your own Self -Care Wheel
by Olga Phoenix