Hidden trauma victims: Understanding and preventing traumatic stress in mental health professionals [2017]

Mental health professionals, including social workers, are often exposed to the traumatic experiences of clients in their work with victims of violence, crime, and disaster. Given their empathetic engagement with traumatized victims, they may experience severe emotional reactions such as terror, grief, and rage. Empirical evidence identifies these emotional reactions as “traumatic stress” including burnout, Traumatic Countertransference (TC), Vicarious Trauma (VT), and Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS)/Compassion Fatigue (CF). In this study, the history and definition of each traumatic stress are examined, and differences among them are explored. Preventive strategies for reducing traumatic stress in mental health professionals are discussed.

Hanae Kanno, PhD, MSW, MA & Martha M. Giddings, PhD, LCSW

Social Work in Mental Health, Volume 15, 2017 – Issue 3