Best Practice in Disability Advocacy

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7. Self care

Vicarious trauma

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The greater the exposure to traumatic material, the greater the risk of vicarious trauma. Disability advocates work in services to which people with traumatic histories present seeking help, or who work with traumatic material are at particular risk.

Vicarious trauma (VT) is ‘the negative transformation in the helper that results (across time) from empathetic engagement with trauma survivors and their traumatic material, combined with a commitment or responsibility to help them’ (Pearlman and Caringi, 2009, 202-203).

Vicarious trauma is not a sign of weakness. It is the cost of working with people who have experienced trauma and abuse. It is important to differentiate vicarious trauma from compassion fatigue and burnout, with which it is often confused, and yet commonly co-exists. The Blue Knot Foundation offer professional development training programs for managers and workers to recognise and mitigate the risks of vicarious trauma.


Blue Knot Foundation

Blue Knot Foundation delivers a range of professional development training programs to help managers and workers across sectors recognise and mitigate the risks of vicarious trauma.
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