We often encounter organizations with a large degree of toxic stress. Intriguing is that some of the same symptoms trauma-impacted clients feel are also the symptoms the staff feel when there is an organizational crisis. Moreover, there is a parallel effect in the entire organization.
As you can see in these charts developed by our friend and colleague Dr. Sandy Bloom, the impact of significant toxic stress has far-reaching effects.
When there is a shooting in a school, a death in a child welfare system, abuse of a child within an organization, a loss of a first responder, chronic financial stress, or another tragic incident, the impact is all-encompassing.
Often the chaos generated by such toxic stress can create a significant sense of feeling unsafe, losing our way, and being overwhelmed by the lack of control we all feel in those moments.
There can easily be a sense of powerlessness when such moments occur within an organization.
Most of us who are responsible for organizations do not fully give credit to this kind of impact.
In such moments of toxic stress, the same attention and trauma-informed care that we offer to our clients must also be offered to our staff. Organizational leaders also need to reassure everyone the mission is intact, that we are holding firm to our mission and will continue with trauma-informed values and care for one another.
In so doing, we mitigate the impact of toxic stress and offer hope and healing to both our clients and staff.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO