Healing Vicarious Traumatization in Trauma Therapists

This presentation will provide an overview of vicarious traumatization, focusing on practical evidence-based resources for clinicians, and especially early-career trauma therapists. Although there is growing recognition of the impact of vicarious traumatization, the topic can often be brushed over quickly. As such, the concept of vicarious traumatization will be defined specifically within the context of trauma psychotherapy, with an emphasis on key signs and symptoms of its clinical presentation. Vicarious traumatization will be distinguished from compassion fatigue, and its association with burnout will be explored. Known risk factors for vicarious traumatization will be delineated, as well as strategies to mitigate the impact of these risk factors. Effective preventative and therapeutic measures for vicarious traumatization will be explored, highlighting both individual and organizational components of such measures and online resources will be provided. Finally, we will touch upon the little researched effect of vicarious trauma on physical health, discussing hypotheses around the potential link between vicarious traumatization and inflammatory illnesses. Presenters will integrate qualitative data from a tertiary care trauma therapy team into their review of exiting literature. Space will be left for an interactive discussion with presentation participants, as well as small group work.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in April 2019.

Target Audience

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:

  • Define the concept of vicarious traumatization, and list core signs & symptoms of vicarious traumatization
  • Identify known risk factors for vicarious traumatization
  • List effective preventative measures for vicarious traumatization, as well as individual and organizational treatment interventions
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter: Zoe Thomas
Presenter Bio: Zoë Thomas is a new psychiatrist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada, where she will be launching a psychiatric Day Treatment Program and a Trauma Therapy Service in the near future. She recently completed a clinical fellowship in the Trauma Therapy Program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, Canada, a program specializing in providing psychotherapeutic treatment to adults who have experienced childhood interpersonal trauma. Prior to her fellowship, Zoë completed both her psychiatry residency (2017) and medical school (2012) at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada.

Presenter: Dana Ross
Presenter Bio: Dana Ross, M.D. is a psychiatrist in the Trauma Therapy Program at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada. The Trauma Therapy Program specializes in treating those who have experienced childhood interpersonal trauma. She practices trauma-focused individual and group therapy, and is a lecturer in the Division of Equity, Gender and Population at the University of Toronto. She has a strong interest in teaching and education, and has taught both undergraduate and postgraduate classes at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Ross completed her psychiatry residency in Ontario, Canada, at the University of Toronto and at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She completed a Master of Neuroscience degree at the University of Calgary, in Calgary, Alberta and finished her undergraduate degree in psychology at York University in Toronto. She recently began her first term on the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) Board of Directors. She has had numerous speaking engagements across North America with a focus on trauma, education, and psychotherapy. Dr. Ross co-chairs the Trauma Talks conference (www.traumatalks.ca) in Toronto which is a conference focused on the concept and practice of trauma-informed care.Dr. Ross was born in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories in Northern Canada and is of Dene descent. She identifies as Métis. Her interests outside of psychiatry include writing, movies, and painting.

Available Credit

  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


ISSTD Member cost:
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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at cfas@isst-d.org to receive the appropriate discount code.