SOCW6333 Walden Week 9 Training Methods Trauma Survivors Assignment

Due 04/25/2019

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings. Be sure to respond to a colleague who chose at least one different setting than you did. Respond in one or more of the following ways: (Use 3 APA references)

  • Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting.
  • Validate an idea with your own experience.
  • Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Response to Liam

It is important for trauma responders to be trained prior to their engagement in work with trauma survivors, because this training establishes a tone of professional support (Harrison & Westwood, 2009), emphasizes the need for professionals to monitor and promote their own wellbeing, and teaches professionals what signs and symptoms to look out for as they enter into the helping field. Knowledge on vicarious trauma, and the high risk of its development when engaging in trauma work, can help professionals to be more self-aware of symptoms, accept signs of potential impairment as normal, and successfully seek assistance or engage in coping strategies necessary to mitigate these symptoms.

For this discussion, I watched the interview with Dr. Ruth Moore, a private practice counselor (Laureate Education, 2014). Dr. Moore has worked with a wide variety of clients and a broad spectrum of difficulties within each client type. She cites difficulties with feeling overly responsible for clients and wanting to do more to assist them, but being unable to, as being the greatest challenges in working with clients who have survived trauma. Despite the variety in client types Dr. Moore has worked with, it has been the cases of child abuse that have been the greatest source of vicarious trauma for her. These cases, where she has witnessed the justice system fail to protect children from sexual abuse, watched three-year-olds re-enact their victimization in play-therapy, and discovered that a four-year-old witnessed the murder-suicide of his mother and her boyfriend, made her begin to question whether there was any good left in the world and start to distrust others. In order to manage these symptoms, Dr. Moore makes it a point to know how her stress manifests and self-assess for symptoms manifestation regularly. She also exercises, gets massages, and limits the number of trauma cases she accepts at a given time in order to reduce her stress levels and mitigate her symptoms before they impact her work.

Prior to her work with trauma survivors, I would train Dr. Moore in what vicarious trauma is, what its symptoms are, and ways that these symptoms can be countered, such as utilizing peer support groups, self-care skills, and through supervision or professional development courses (Harrison & Westwood, 2009). I would train on these specific elements, because they would normalize vicarious trauma symptoms within the profession, teach Dr. Moore to recognize symptoms of it, teach her how to manage her symptoms both independently and with the help of her peers, profession, and supervisor, and would decrease her sense of isolation, anxiety, and depression should her symptoms begin to manifest. This allows her to go into her work already knowing how to take care of herself and prevent damage from being done to either herself or the client due to vicarious trauma symptomology, rather than having to learn while working with clients and potentially causing irreparable damage along the way.


Harrison, R. L., & Westwood, M. J. (2009). Preventing vicarious traumatization of mental health therapists: Identifying protective practices. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 46(2), 203–219.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014b). Media carousel: Trauma-response helping professionals [Video file]. Retrieved from

Response to Nicole Keller

Importance of Training Prior to Engagement

Harrison and Westwood (2009) reported that there are copious amounts of research that supports vicarious trauma, burnout and compassion fatigue in trauma-response workers. With all the information we know from research, it is important to train these providers prior to their engagement in trauma work. Equipping trauma-workers with a tool kit of skills and symptoms to be aware of will prevent vicarious trauma from interfering with their work. For example, a trauma worker, who had no training or knowledge of vicarious trauma and the symptoms, is experiencing insomnia due to nightmares from an event. This worker decides to leave the agency as a whole because he/she feels that the job must not be right for him/her. In reality, the job is fine, but the worker is experiencing a very typical response to untreated secondary/indirect trauma. If the worker was aware of the symptoms and potential preventative measures, he/she may still be at the agency.

Police Work: Lieutenant Donald Gerkin

Mr. Gerkin reported various high risk/stress jobs while working in the police field (Laureate Education, 2014b). Mr. Gerkin was in a situation where he needed to protect himself by dispatching his weapon at a suspect (Laureate Education, 2014b). After the event Gerkin reported a similar situation and stated that he felt physical symptoms of distress, in which he decided to seek help (Laureate Education, 2014b). Gerkin discussed how self-preservation is important and prepping self-prior to coming into contact with a potentially lethal situation is important (Laureate Education, 2014b). He also reported that preparing or thinking of different ways to deal/process potentially lethal events should be done prior to experiencing traumatic events in the field (Laureate Education, 2014b).

Training for Prevention

I would train the trauma-response professional to prevent vicarious trauma prior to exposure. I say this in most of my posts, but education is always the best way to approach a situation. Educating the new professional on the signs, symptoms and potential experiences he/she will undergo while working in the particular position. Bell, Kulkarni and Dalton (2003) reported that vicarious trauma is thought to be transmitted through empathy. Educating the new clinician that empathy is a catalyst and self-care will help prevent some of the symptoms may provide the individual with a protective measure against vicarious trauma. For example, an individual who has knowledge that empathy is a catalyst may become more self-aware while in session. He/she may find him/herself not being able to provide adequate empathy because he/she is experiencing vicarious trauma symptoms. Bell et al. (2003) reported that young, unexperienced clinicians experience the highest forms of distress. This is another reason why providing education, potentially role-playing scenarios and having trauma focused discussions will help those unexperienced clinicians deal with the risks of this job.


Bell, H., Kulkarni, S., & Dalton, L. (2003). Organizational prevention of vicarious

trauma. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, (4), 463. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.or…

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014b). Media carousel: Trauma-response helping

professionals [Video file]. Retrieved from

Harrison, R. L., & Westwood, M. J. (2009). Preventing vicarious traumatization of mental health

therapists: Identifying protective practices. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 46(2), 203–219.