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Vicarious Trauma: Recognizing, Assessing, Preventing, and Treating in Clinicians

25 July 2008


Clinicians who become empathically engaged with trauma survivor clients are at risk for developing vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma is the transformation of the cognitive schemas of clinicians due to exposure to the traumatic material of clients. Vicarious trauma is conceptualized through the constructivist self development theory and is distinctly different than other constructs that attempt to define the result of working with trauma clients including secondary traumatic stress and burnout. Recognizing the signs and symptoms, examining assessment measures, understanding contributing factors, exploring prevention and intervention methods and reviewing treatment options is the focus of this review. Addressing the impact of vicarious trauma at personal, professional, and organizational levels is important to the well being of trauma therapists.


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