However . . .
despite all the advances made,
many organizations, groups, families and individuals still create systems, rules
and personal environments that foster vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue.
ORGANIZATIONAL SYSTEMS BARRIERS
Organizations may say they want their members to be healthy but the systems they put in place make it difficult to achieve.Some of the organizational barriers include:
Is it hopeless?
Now that's a vicarious trauma tinged statement!
No it is not hopeless, disastrous, awful, terrible or rotten or any other number of trauma inspired words. Organizations and individuals can create sustainable methods for dealing with vicarious trauma.
THE ELEVEN SHARED
INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL STEPS
FOR REDUCING VICARIOUS TRAUMA
There are eleven critical factors organizations and individuals need to heed in order to effectively deal with vicarious trauma.
These factors are adapted from several articles. Links to the full articles are given at the end.
THE ORGANIZATION AND THE INDIVIDUALS IN THAT ORGANIZATION:
2. evaluate how all of their changing perceptions and beliefs as a result of being exposed to trauma are impacting how they all work with clients and the policies and programs they create.
3. acknowledge and address their need for a sense of security and safety both personally and professionally. This includes physical safety in their surroundings and emotional safety in dealing with clients, the public, coworkers and management.
4. are aware they need to be able to trust themselves,each other and trust others and that they need to take steps to make this possible. They develop the skills and abilities to do their personal and professional work, manage their emotions and meet their own physical needs. They support others they work with to take steps to have adequate skills and ability in those areas too..
5. know they need a strong sense of self esteem and esteem and value for others. This especially includes a genuine esteem and value of clients, coworkers, groups who interact with them. They challenge their words, policies, actions and thoughts to support personal self esteem and esteem for others.
6. realize they need to feel connected and as individuals and an organization they support ways for all to feel connected.
7. are aware that each person in the organization needs a sense of control and self management. They need to know they can make decisions about their lives and future. They need to see they have impact on their work and what affects them. They need to be aware they have choices and are not victims of people, organizations,structures or situations. They work together as an organization to assure each person has that sense of control and self management. They take individual responsibility for their own sense of control and for not impeding others' sense of control.
8. are encouraged and supported by the organization and individually take steps to have balanced lives and healthy personal coping strategies.
9. are offered and seek out peer supervision so that we learn from each other and normalize our experiences.
10.seek out and take the opportunity and are required and supported with backup and resources as part of our work time to engage in professional development and training.
11. We are assigned workloads that reflect the support, supervision and resources available to us and take into consideration our own experience and training. We make use of all resources available to us to meet our workload and make it known to the organization if our workload does not match the available resources and our own skills.
GETTING THERE A STEP AT A TIME.... ADDITIONAL RESOURCES.
Each organization and indivudal is different. While some people and groups can sit down and map out how they accomplish the 11 critical steps, others may prefer accessing additonal information. Following are a sampling of the resources avaliable.
Preventing Vicarious Trauma, an article by the Maryland Coalition against Sexual Assault.
Child Welfare information Gateway. This site includes a series of articles and presentations on compassion fatigue amongst child welfare worker.
A research article about Organizational Prevention of Vicarious Trauma. This "scholarly article" has been reprinted and referenced on various sites. Its message is that the organization or agency has a responsibility for addressing and even fostering vicarious trauma conditions. It outlines steps an agency can take to make it less traumatic for workers to be in the caring professions.
Vicarious Trauma and Self Care, a power point presentation by Dr Judith Pierson for the Department of Health and Social Services in Delaware. This simple and visually pleasing power point gives an effective overview of vicarious trauma and how to make personal and agency changes. While not indepth as it obviously was used in a presentation, it is a worthwhile introduction if you have just a few minutes to scan the topic.
Vicarious Traumatization and Spirituality in Law Enforcement, an article shared by FBI.
when helping hurts
The woman was not the first shaky and exhausted person to sit in my office. I had seen that look on the faces of other social workers.
I listened as she talked, words I had heard before.
I have these feelings about what I've seen and heard .
I just don't deal with my feelings.
I keep busy, doing more and more.
I try to remove the images and stories from my memory but they creep in.
No, actually they barge in.
I have trouble falling asleep, hour after hour.
Sometimes other things make me think
about what happened.. I hate that.
I feel so strange.
Have you considered that you are experiencing vicarious trauma, I asked her.