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Understanding Vicarious Trauma and its Path to Resilience

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Mental health professionals routinely provide care to individuals with significant trauma histories. The incessant responsiveness and empathic regard that is required when giving care to trauma clients can result in the therapist being traumatized as well. This presentation will focus on vicarious trauma and how it manifests both as burnout and compassion fatigue. An understanding of vicarious trauma will be discussed based on the seminal research of Pearlman & Saakitvne. Additionally, vicarious trauma will be linked to collective trauma. The conceptualization of collective trauma will be based on the formulations of sociologist Kai Erikson. The presentation will also highlight the symptoms of vicarious trauma and specific empirically validated tools like the Malsch Burnout Inventory and Moreover, information will be delineated to underscore those mental health workers who are more at risk for suffering from vicarious trauma. 

A secondary aspect of the presentation will focus on ways to navigate the effects of impactful trauma work. Examining various self-care techniques to manage burnout and psychological distress will be addressed. An essential aspect that will be considered is the importance of moving from vicarious trauma to a place of growth and strength. The areas of vicarious resilience and vicarious transformation will be explored to demonstrate the positive impact that trauma work can have on therapists. 

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