Burnout, Vicarious Traumatization, and Its Prevention

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Tuesday, July 7th to Wednesday, September 30th

Please join us in an online, open forum on telehealth. NCB is providing an opportunity for clinicians to ask each other questions, share observations and adapted telehealth protocols for the SoT population via an online forum and technical exchange. This conversation will be a forum for peer-led informational exchange. NCB staff will assist in facilitating and monitoring the conversation.

Directions: Please watch Eugene Augusterfer’s presentation and interview Telemedicine in Mental Health first. Then feel free to join us in this open forum. All are welcome to join this forum, whether you have an account on Healtorture.org or not. For more information on using the forum, please read the directions on the first post. Please keep your comments respectful, relevant, factual, and do not share identifying information about clients per client privacy and HIPAA regulations. This forum will be open from July 6, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Pross, C. (2006). Burnout, Vicarious Traumatization, and Its Prevention. Torture, 16 (1), 1-9. 

Abstract: Previous studies on burnout and vicarious traumatization are reviewed and summarized with a list of signs and symptoms. From the author's own observations two histories of caregivers working with torture survivors are described which exemplify the risk, implications and consequences of secondary trauma. Contributing factors in the social and political framework in which caregivers operate are analyzed and possible means of prevention suggested, particularly focusing on the conflict of roles when providing evaluations on trauma victims for health and immigration authorities. Caregivers working with victims of violence carry a high risk of suffering from burnout and vicarious traumatization unless preventive factors are considered such as: self-care, solid professional training in psychotherapy, therapeutic self-awareness, regular self-examination by collegial and external supervision, limiting caseload, continuing professional education and learning about new concepts in trauma, occasional research sabbaticals, keeping a balance between empathy and a proper professional distance to clients, protecting oneself against being misled by clients with fictitious PTSD. An institutional setting should be provided in which the roles of therapists and evaluators are separated. Important factors for burnout and vicarious traumatization are the lack of social recognition for caregivers and the financial and legal outsider status of many centers. Therefore politicians and social insurance carriers should be urged to integrate facilities for traumatized refugees into the general health care system and centers should work on more alliances with the medical mainstream and academic medicine.


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