I have written significantly about secondary trauma and what our trauma caregivers are facing as they encounter trauma-impacted individuals in their everyday professional experiences. Also, for many who work in our field, they have their own trauma history and are retriggered when they encounter vivid trauma adversities in their clients.
Particularly when professionals and others have dealt with the horror of life-threatening episodes where naloxone had to be administered to save someone’s life who have overdosed, these tragic experiences remain in their memories and create triggers that can lead to chronic stress and other forms of trauma. The reality of the secondary trauma is intense and can create such an allostatic load of anguish that their health, life and career may be in jeopardy.
I think it is important that secondary trauma becomes just as significant a topic for research and discussion as trauma itself. The professionals who are most vulnerable need to understand the impact of secondary trauma and find ways to provide self-care. Additionally, organizations who deal with trauma-impacted clients need to recognize the impact of secondary trauma and provide both policies and opportunities for their staff to find the self-care they need.
A recent essay published on the Kensington Voice written by Henry Savage paints a very compelling and practical portrayal of secondary trauma. This essay is very expressive about the impact of traumatic situations to caregivers, the need and permission for self-care and the opportunity organizations have to help their staff find ways to regulate and cope. Here is a link to this helpful article.
I believe these realities and conversations are essential. Discussing the impact of trauma on our society requires that we evaluate the power of secondary trauma to those who have witnessed another’s trauma. It is a contagion that has its own capacity to be recreated in the memories of those who are experiencing it vicariously. This article represents the key issues that need to be addressed and provides some suggestions as to how we can be more effective in helping those who have experienced secondary trauma.