Therapists & Counselors / Secondary Trauma / Compassion Fatigue
November 10, 2016
In the field of counseling and therapy there is a common assumption, "Helping people is why we are doing it", this is a true statement for many but most do not take into consideration the cost of helping others. Therapy and counseling can be often times very messy. As much as we say that we are not getting hurt in the process, we are fooling ourselves, trauma is infectious! In the case of secondary trauma we as helpers can accumulate a stock pile of secondary hurt and pain that does nothing in the beginning, however as time waxes on, we can start to get emotionally sick without any awareness of where we are in the sickness, and how to get out. Secondary trauma is the number one reason helpers experience burnout,
offerings it holds for its benefactors.
"Therapy and counseling can be often times very messy. As much as we say that we are not getting hurt in the process, we are fooling ourselves, trauma is infectious! "
and burnout can take many forms. In some cases, the signs of burnout can be an outward expression if suppressed emotion that the family feels when the masks of the professional come off after a long day hearing story after story of loss and hurt from your clients. Other time the secondary trauma takes on an inward expression where we start to have self-doubt, negative self-talk, even indifference with our colleagues and clients.
ART can be the answer for the person in the helping profession, especially one that is bound by confidentiality. ART allows for the client to work through scenes, which are often the result of secondary trauma (our imagined experience) without having to divulge to the therapists' therapist the details of the situation. Being able to purge oneself of the emotional trauma that we have taken on over the course of time is freeing and uplifting. Often therapists will express they feel as if though they have the energy they never knew was available to them after having ART. Imagine the burden on the CNS of having to subdue the symptoms of secondary trauma most days while listening to another client, or sitting through a consult or supervision; it can take a great deal of energy to keep subdue.
Many therapists have a therapist, but much more do not. Maybe it's time to take a taste of the medicine you've been prescribing to your clients and give yourself the gift of freedom from the struggles with the pains of others.