How to Reduce the Risk of Secondary Trauma

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Avoiding or dealing with secondary traumatic stress requires action by both individual professionals and organizations as a whole:

Engage in self care. Counterbalance hearing victims’ stories, seeing troubling photos and retelling difficult details in court with self care activities such as exercise, spiritual activities, meditation or mindfulness approaches. Learn more at traumastewardship.com or compassionfatigue.ca.

Pay attention to caseloads. Managers should ensure caseload numbers are appropriate and the type of work is varied. There’s no research that definitively says how many cases are too many, said Dr. Sprang. The right number is specific to the setting, the types of cases, and other responsibilities the staff person has. For example, giving child welfare caseworkers a mix of abuse and neglect cases, or rotating workers between investigation and case management responsibilities. A manager may also allow a juvenile justice worker whose recent cases have involved serious felony offenses to participate in training or other work enrichment opportunities. A good supervisor can manage these issues for the benefit of their workers, said Dr. Sprang.

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