Reducing the Impact of Vicarious Trauma: Training Additions that Can Prevent Staff and Volunteer Burnout

Suzanne Willetts | September 22 | 9:00 - 10:00 AM | Auditorium

Individuals exposed to distressing events through work with traumatized children and adults consistently report symptoms of secondary trauma and PTSD. Even with training, professionals working in human trafficking experience acute symptoms at rates of over 85%. For organizations using volunteers, this information is profound and demonstrates the need for formal training for both professional and non-professional staff. Many of us who witness these tragedies know that it is easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and can also become so focused on the work that we forget to look after our own emotional needs. This training discusses the newest research in unconscious empathy, somatic countertransference, sleep disturbance, and preventing and/or managing compassion fatigue. We will discuss the best means to train individuals who work with human trafficking by giving them the language to combat compassion fatigue as well as prepare for what they may see, experience, and feel. Research has shown that relatively simple things can impact one’s ability to cope with the impact of secondary trauma. Objectives for this training are to 1) identify signs that someone is experiencing the symptoms of vicarious trauma or PTSD, 2) understand the conscious and unconscious origins of secondary trauma, 3) learn ways to prevent or combat compassion fatigue and somatic symptoms and 4) discover elements that can be added to your existing training programs to assist in understanding complex emotional reactions. Preparation and training with an eye toward emotional readiness allows our programs and our missions to keep thriving.

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