Preventing Vicarious Traumatization of Mental Health Therapists: Identifying Protective Practices

As part of their work, trauma therapists must listen to detailed descriptions by patients of horrific events such as abuse, violence and disasters. Over time, the psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurses who treat seriously traumatized individuals are themselves at risk for vicarious traumatization and burnout. Richard Harrison is studying the factors that contribute to the resilience and health of trauma therapists. He will identify the individual characteristics, as well as the organizational practices, that help professionals succeed in their work and remain healthy. He hopes his work will help lessen the “costs of caring” for this group of health professionals, and prevent the loss of therapists who quit the profession because of burnout and vicarious traumatization.