Vicarious trauma (VT) (also called secondary trauma) is a serious condition that can impact anyone who works with people who have experienced trauma. VT often results in impaired empathy and compassion, increased frustration, irritability, chronic stress, disengagement, and self-medicating behaviors. The negative effects of VT are insidious and cumulative and can lead to chronic anxiety, depression, numerous other physical and behavioral health problems, addiction, PTSD, burnout, and suicide. VT has a negative impact on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being of legal service professionals. Those affected by VT include lawyers, paralegals, investigators, office support team members, judicial officers, and court staff, among others. Fortunately, many of the negative effects of VT can be prevented and mitigated. Once practitioners are made aware of VT and its symptoms, some simple but powerful tools and strategies can be used for successful self-care. Individuals, teams, and firms who encounter others’ trauma can be proactive in adopting regular practices to skillfully care for themselves and model the same for their team members.
- Understand what vicarious trauma is and who are at high risk of being impacted.
- Identify the symptoms of VT in themselves and others.
- Use multiple tools and techniques that they will experience in the workshop to prevent and mitigate the impact of VT, including a self-care plan that is developed as part of the workshop.