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How to Unpack Your own Trauma Without Inflicting Trauma on Others…Low-Impact Debriefing

As advocates in the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement, we are all too familiar with the term and impacts of vicarious trauma. How then do we relieve ourselves of the imprints that a survivor’s story leaves on us? An important way of coping with the intensity of the work is to first acknowledge that it WILL affect you.

In an organization plagued with policies and procedures sometimes we forget to implement “practices.” A few practices to consider are:

  • Always seek consent before debriefing and stick to the feelings, keeping the details to a minimum
    • Is it an okay time for me to debrief about how I am feeling with you?
  • Have a pre-established “buddy,” or two, that you can debrief with
    • Keep in mind the importance of confidentiality and autonomy; select an area that will maintain this.
  • Encourage others to take time for themselves.  Model this by doing it yourself.
    • Take a 5-10 minute walk, listen to some music, grab a coffee!
  • Commit, or re-commit, to taking part in addressing trauma in the workplace, create a culture of established debriefing and structure
    • Encourage in-house trainings around topics such as Vicarious Trauma, have scheduled check-ins, and participate in wellness related activities.

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Reviewed: October 26th, 2016