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You’re a helping professional and you have regular, if not, daily experience with human grief, loss, or suffering. Vicarious trauma is what happens to a professional’s way of thinking as a result of chronic exposure and empathizing with others’ traumatic experiences.
Vicarious trauma is an empathy-based reaction that often goes unrealized by those who suffer from it. You don’t have to deal with your feelings alone. Our trained counselors are here to help you process your emotions and acknowledge what you’re feeling so you can build healthier responses.
If you’ve worked with others who have been through a traumatic event, it’s natural to feel affected by what you’ve heard or experienced or feel empathy for the individuals involved. You might push your feelings away because you feel like you don’t have the “right” to be affected by an event you didn’t personally experience.
The Evolution Wellness team in Wilmington, NC is here to tell you what you’re feeling is normal, and to help you through the journey of processing your emotions in a healthy way.
What is Vicarious Trauma?
Vicarious trauma is also known as secondary trauma and results from indirect exposure to a traumatic event and empathetic engagement with survivors. Anyone who frequently deals with or helps trauma survivors as a profession in their daily lives such as mental health professionals, physicians, healthcare providers, lawyers and judges, social workers, humanitarian or human rights workers, journalists, or clergy often experiences vicarious trauma.
Compassion fatigue and burnout are also similar to vicarious trauma, and a person might experience more than one of these conditions at the same time.
Symptoms of Vicarious Trauma
Vicarious trauma can present itself in a variety of symptoms that affect both physical and mental aspects of life.
- Cognitive – difficulty concentrating or focusing, lasting negativity or cynicism, unable to make decisions or keep up with workload
- Emotional – lasting feelings of grief, anxiety, or sadness
- Behavioral – difficulty sleeping, increase in substance use, isolation, altered eating habits, or risky behavior
- Spiritual – loss of sense of purpose or hope, no motivation, or feelings of worthlessness
- Physiological – rashes, heartburn, loss of sleep, ulcers
Therapy for Vicarious Trauma
Therapy for trauma often means evaluating your life and making changes. Your therapist will work with you to evaluate all aspects of your health – mental, physical, and spiritual. You’ll work together to develop greater self-awareness, and learn to feel better in your body by encouraging mindfulness and healthy lifestyle choices. Having a therapist to support you on this journey can be extremely helpful as they can give you an outside perspective and guide you as you evaluate:
- Day to day behaviors
- Career satisfaction
- Life purpose and meaning
- Relationship functioning
- Cognitive health
- Behaviors and attitudes
- Physical health
- Spiritual connectedness
Begin Therapy for Vicarious Trauma in Wilmington, NC
Reliving trauma and experiencing symptoms of PTSD can hold you back from living life wholeheartedly. Working with a trauma therapist at our Wilmington, NC-based counseling practice can help you move forward and heal. If you are ready to take the steps toward healing from trauma and PTSD, follow these steps.
Other Services at Evolution Wellness
Here at Evolution in Wilmington, NC, we care about providing high-quality counseling services. While we have true trauma therapy experts, trauma therapy isn’t all we offer. Our therapists provide family therapy services along with individual therapy services. Among our individual services are anxiety and depression treatment, LGBTIA affirming counseling, substance abuse counseling, and EMDR. In regard to families, we offer couples therapy, premarital counseling, counseling for divorce, intimacy & sex therapy, therapy for women, and therapy for teens. For more information about our practice, check out our blog or contact us.