Exposing yourself to another person's traumatic experiences can bring about personal changes, including to your psychological, physical and spiritual wellbeing. It can also affect how you see yourself as well as your relationships with other people. This process of change happens over time and you may not even notice that it is taking place.
Sometimes the effects can be negative, but it’s important to remember that they can be very positive too. Helping people can result in personal growth, a greater connection with other people and personal satisfaction that comes from doing meaningful work.
Supporting people who have experienced trauma requires empathy and compassion. The stress and demands of this type of work can become overwhelming and can result in work-induced stress and trauma.
The effects of work-induced stress and trauma can also vary from person to person. Some people experience 'burnout' or ‘compassion fatigue’ which may express itself as negativity or disinterest towards clients, or exhaustion.
When the symptoms become more severe, it turns into 'vicarious trauma', which can produce nightmares, sleep problems, depression, fearfulness and complete withdrawal, similar to post traumatic stress reactions. If these things are not addressed, they can take have serious effects, both at work and in your personal life.
This checklist is a way to gauge how you are feeling about your work. The things on the list do not necessarily mean that you have work-induced trauma or are suffering from burnout. An answer of ‘yes’ to any of the questions can alert you to the need to speak to someone. Counsellors at 1800RESPECT are trained to talk about recognising work-induced trauma.
Hearing about other people’s trauma can trigger our own unresolved trauma. Remember to ask for help if you need it.