Vicarious Trauma Counseling – Therapists and Counselors in Peachtree City
The effects of trauma can extend beyond the victim.
Recently, I was seeing a client who was suffering from insomnia, and sudden, unexplainable feelings of sadness and doom. Two weeks prior to her visit with me, she was a witness to a tragic automobile accident. She was suffering from Vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma (VT), also known as secondary trauma or compassion fatigue, results from indirect exposure to the trauma of another individual or group. Compassion fatigue occurs via the verbal account of a trauma survivor or through personal witness of a traumatic event. Typically, the person suffering from secondary trauma has the added responsibility of maintaining their emotional composure while assisting the primary trauma victim(s).
A variety of careers are prone to experiencing vicarious trauma. First responders and crisis management teams – paramedics, emergency medical personnel, 911 operators, firefighters and police – are at a high risk. Those involved in professions that provide aftermath care, such as counselors, clergy, social workers and those who work in the justice system, are also at an elevated risk. Outside of the professional realm, family members and friends of those who have experienced severe trauma may also encounter the effects of VT.
Signs Of Vicarious Trauma:
- Exhaustion and sleep disturbances
- Guilt for having more (joy, wealth, health, etc) than those who are struggling
- Inability to enjoy your “regular” life
- Avoidance and absenteeism
- Continually doubting that your efforts really matter
- Hypersensitivity and intrusive thoughts and images related to the trauma experienced by those around you.
Introspection is key when analyzing your risk. If you are suffering from the signs of vicarious trauma, ask yourself the following questions: Is my gut telling me that my work is now interfering with my health and relationships? Am I personally connecting to the stories of those I’m trying to assist? Do I witness suffering on a typical basis? Do I feel overly responsible for someone’s healing and safety?
If the answer is yes, know that there is relief and resolution. Find a therapist skilled in the area of vicarious trauma to help you restore the balance between your professional and personal life.