Professional Health: Beyond Vicarious Trauma Mitigation

Professional Health is a very important topic for every individual who works with people who have experienced trauma.  

It is essential for any agency or organization working with trauma to institutionalize strategies to maintain health and mitigate trauma.

It is a shared relationship between the agency and the individual doing the front line work.   They must work together in consistency and transparency. Professional Health is
more than a staff persons self-care, it is an organizational responsibility to create a systematic culture of health that includes vicarious trauma mitigation, realistic workload expectations, addressing demoralization, working diligently towards a healthy work culture and good
employment benefits.

When professional Health is not institutionalized, “Organizational Trauma” and/ or “Toxic Culture” are really and very damaging risks.
We can help you!

Further, it is not just Vicarious Trauma that impacts our professional health. 

Because of vicarious trauma, our work environments often become toxic.  If trauma is not discharged in a “healthy way”, it will discharge sideways.  Gossip, rumor making, mobbing (when staff and/or volunteers “gang-up” and bully or push out another volunteer or staff), victim blaming and/or slut shaming.  

We also suffer from burn-out.  We are overwhelmed, underfunded and short staffed while working with an incredible amount of consistent violence on the daily basis. 

We know how important our work is, so we spread ourselves very thin.  There is demoralization.  We try find justice and seek offender accountability, but our systems are not functioning well.   It is easy to become demoralized.

Do you need help with your individual vicarious trauma mitigation or with your agency or to provide training/consultation to your organization?

We are able to provide consultation and training in the area of Professional Health and Mitigating Organizational Trauma:

According to:  The Brain – The Story of You
–by David Eagleman

When discussing the type of work we do (the process of working with the pain of others), Mr. Eagleman observed that the neurons in our brain do not recognize the difference between the pain we feel for others and the pain we experience ourselves.   As much as we try , we cannot avoid a negative and personal impact from working with those who have experienced trauma, pain and tragedy- we can only mitigate it.

The science is crystal clear.  Our brains and our lives are changed by the work we do.  We must, therefore, intentionally take care of ourselves while helping others-making Self-Care an ethical obligation.

We experience trauma while working with people who are
experiencing trauma.

When first responders do not practice a high degree of self-care, 
they risk further victimizing the clients they had the intention of serving. 

We have had several people who have experienced crime victimization tell us that “Working with the system was worse than the actual traumatic event”.  This is called “Secondary Victimization”, we believe that vicarious trauma mitigation and holistic self-care can decrease Secondary Victimization.

The people we serve deserve to work with professionals who are healthy, educated, experienced, compassionate and committed to Trauma Informed Response and Care.

Drowning in Empathy: The Cost of Vicarious Trauma

TED Talks:  The Importance of Self-Care

As an ethical obligation,  a Trauma Informed Agency or Organization will strive to create a culture of responsible, holistic self-care.   Agencies and Organizations should institutionalize “Self-Care” and Vicarious Trauma Mitigation through: board/ leadership approved, written and highly accessible policies, procedures and protocols.
CLICK HERE: for one approach on
How Agencies and Organizations
Can Approach Trauma Informed

Response and Care
CLICK Here: For Possible ways to
change your policies
Image result for change your policies
CLICK Here:  The Office for Victims of Crime
Vicarious Trauma Toolkit
CLICK Here:  Does my agency institutionalize Vicarious trauma?
CLICK Here:  For Law Enforcement


In order to really practice effective Self- Care,  we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to push our egos aside and “see” where we need to focus our efforts.

Self-Care in this context is about us, but it also (and very importantly) about the clients that we serve.

Again, they deserve to work with first responders who are healthy, professional, practicing Trauma Informed Response and Care and willing to continue educating themselves.

TED Talk: Brene Brown:
The power of Vulnerability
Brene Brown on Empathy
CLICK Here:  for some office health
challenge ideas
Watch this video, and do this experiment  
Need Some Inspiration?
Need Some Laughter? (Funny Not Funny)
Brain Exercises and Games
YogaGlo:  Affordable Online Yoga Studio
Exhale to Inhale:  Trauma Informed Yoga with a couple of classes online
TED Talk:  The Balancing Act of Compassion
TED Talk: Compassion and the True
Meaning of Empathy
TED Talk:  Talks to help you manage stress
This Song and Video Inspires us!
How does art heal your soul?
Managing Stress Through Mindfulness:
an exercise_____________________________________

Understand & Overcome Your Compassion Fatigue: An Online Guide

How are you doing?

Below are several tools that  you can use to measure either yourself on an individual level or to measure your agency/organization.

Self-Care Assessment Tool

Self-Care Assessment Tool #2

Self-Care Assessment Tool #3

Self-Care Assessment Tool #4

Self-Care Assessment Tool #5

Self-Care Assessment Tool #6

Warning! There is a difference between “Self-Care” and “Self-Comfort”

Self-Care has a positive long term impact.  Self-Comfort may feel good immediately,  but may have a negative long term impact.


Yoga after work:   Self- Care

A bottle of wine after work:  Self-Comfort

Cooking fried chicken:  Self-Care

Eating fried chicken:  Self-Comfort

Venting with a designated co-worker:  Self-Care

Gossiping with a co-worker:  Self-Comfort

“Self Care is more than a bubble bath”

Self-Care is a very “individual” practice.   

It is essential for agencies/organizations to understand that each person has to develop their  own self-care plan.  I use a journal to keep track of my self-care, however apps can work well too (again- it is an individual practice).

What works for one person will drive another person crazy!  So create a system that allows for each individual to create a holistic self-care plan and opportunities to share their progress regularly with their trauma trained supervisors.

To begin exploring holistic self-care, 
we recommend:
Self Care Wheel by Olga Phoenix
Create your own Self -Care Wheel
by Olga Phoenix