VICARIOUS TRAUMA is a process of emotional, psychological, mental, and somatic (physical) change resulting from empathetic engagement with trauma survivors. Anyone who engages empathetically with survivors of traumatic incidents like abandonment, assault, torture, prolonged neglect/abuse, and material relating to their trauma, is potentially affected, including doctors and other health and social service professionals, including volunteers.


Common signs of vicarious trauma

If you are currently or have recently been engaged with, survivors of traumatic incidents such as: assault, prolonged adverse childhood experiences, torture survivors, terminally ill, dying loved ones, longincarcerated prisoners, you should be aware of, and attend to, the following signs: • experiencing lingering feelings of anger, rage and sadness about patient’s victimisation • becoming overly involved emotionally with the patient • experiencing bystander guilt, shame, feelings of self-doubt • being preoccupied with thoughts of patients outside of the work situation • over identification with the patient (having horror and rescue fantasies) • loss of hope, pessimism, cynicism • distancing, numbing, detachment, cutting patients off, staying busy. Avoiding listening to client’s story of traumatic experiences • difficulty in maintaining professional boundaries with the client, such as overextending self (trying to do more than is in the role to help the patient). If you are experiencing any of these signs, this could indicate that you are suffering from vicarious trauma.


Strategies for reducing the risk and/or recovering from vicarious trauma

If you feel you may be suffering from any of the above symptoms of vicarious trauma, these coping strategies are useful to reduce the risks to your own health and well-being: • Increase your self-observation – recognise and chart your signs of stress, vicarious trauma and burnout. • Take care of yourself emotionally – engage in relaxing and self-soothing activities, nurture selfcare. • Look after your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. • Maintain a healthy work/life balance – have outside interests. • Be realistic about what you can accomplish – avoid wishful thinking. • Don’t take on responsibility for your patients’ wellbeing but supply them with tools to look after themselves. • Balance your caseload – mix of more and less traumatised clients, victims and non-victims. • Take regular breaks, take time off when you need to – even brief periods of respite. • Seek social support from colleagues, family members. Use a buddy system – particularly important for less experienced care-givers, counsellors & therapists. • Use peer support and opportunities to debrief. • Take up training opportunities. • If you need it, engage in time-limited group or individual therapy. • There are also significant organisational factors that can increase the risk of a person being vicariously traumatised, which should be assessed and addressed



An effective and well-proven writing process for relief from the experience of personal and VICARIOUS TRAUMA The INTENSIVE JOURNAL method is a professionally facilitated, private and safe writing process:

• A private, safe, and self-managed writing program for restoration/recovery from the effects of vicarious trauma.

• No special writing skills or experience required.

• Private writing process done in two-hour small, structured, group sessions. (In-person or on ZOOM platform).

• Enrolment and participation are strictly voluntary.

• Meditative writing periods with facilitated “writing prompts” – enabling participants to write about individual and private lived experience.

• No diagnostics, judgment, or analysis – your life narrative in your words, hand-written in your own private workbook.

• Not a diary or a typically casual journal method.

• An innovative “inward” process of dialogue and feedback.

• No group sharing. No analysis or special terminology.

• Not a therapy, yet significantly healing and therapeutic.



for those who complete The 24-hour INTENSIVE JOURNAL® Workshop Process

• Improved self-awareness Physical stamina; Emotional flexibility; Spiritual centering.

• Improved self-care. (See above) • Increased “hassle-tolerance”. (Patience/empathy)

• Expanded experience & practice of empathy.

• Increased willingness to ask for and receive support from peers and other appropriate support resources.

• Improved capacity to provide peer support.

• An “experienced” sense of personal purpose and meaning in the role of caregiving, counseling, and support for clients, self, and peers.