How We Protect Therapists: Current and Future Directions in Vicarious Trauma Research

This forum is based on a comprehensive literature review of secondary trauma (STS/VT/CF) and a plea for renewed research for the next decade. Offering an overview and critique of the research literature, we focus on the personal and organizational risk factors for trauma therapists. Covering a brief review of the concepts of secondary trauma (including VT and CF), the author presents our current knowledge about the risks of working in the field of trauma. Emphasis is placed on helping to educate training directors and clinical managers (and trainees) on how to set up treatment clinics that help to mitigate the risk to therapists posed by secondary trauma. A review of evidence-based treatments is also provided. The forum offers opportunity for attendees to share their experiences working in the field of trauma while simultaneously challenging our community to face these very real hazards that are often ignored despite their prevalence among trauma therapists. A candid yet supportive environment will be created to help attendees examine these difficult decisions for therapists and supervisors working in the trauma field. A call for a new phase of secondary trauma research is made for this vital yet often neglected aspect to our work.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in May 2020.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives

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

  • Identify structural and individual risk and resiliency factors associated with vicarious/secondary trauma with a particular focus on the specific risks associated with running clinics that offer specialized treatment for trauma as their main clinical service
  • Plan how they will modify their own clinical practice and trauma clinics based on these recommendations
  • Build a scholarly grass-roots network of trauma therapists and scholars that will be generated by willing forum attendees that seek additional opportunity to formulate new initiatives for the next decade of applied research in secondary trauma
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: Adam Meiselman, PhD
Presenter Bio: Trained as a clinical psychologist at Florida State University, Adam Meiselman is currently a professor at Lesley University's Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences in the Division of Counseling and Psychology where he serves as a core faculty member and the coordinator of the trauma program for their LMHC program in Mental Health Counseling. Before joining Lesley, Dr. Meiselman worked overseas in Ireland, where he ran the psychology services for one of the catchment areas of the national health system in the country. At Lesley, he returned to teach more and continue his research on secondary trauma that he started to develop while running part of the psychology services in the Irish health system. Currently, Prof. Meiselman runs a small research unit at Lesley University looking at complex trauma, secondary trauma, and the college campus sexual assault epidemic plaguing the US. Additional research projects include treating the co-occurring disorders (including complex trauma) as well as research projects and consultation that focuses on efficacious treatment options that are also cost effective when viewed by systemic service delivery models. Married to an Irish national, Professor Meiselman has been connected to both sides of the pond since 1990.

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 to receive the appropriate discount code.