From Vicarious Trauma to Resilience and Resistance: Conceptualising the Personal and Political Benefits of Trauma Work

October 21, 2023
Abstract
There is growing commitment to trauma-informed practice and increased recognition of risks associated with this work. Research with trauma professionals has explored and measured impacts such as vicarious trauma, burnout, compassion fatigue and moral injury. However, the benefits of working with trauma-affected clients are under-studied, and a scholarly focus on the risk of trauma work to professionals can overlook the sustaining and enriching dimensions of this work.

This workshop draws on interviews with sixty-three welfare, health and legal professionals in Australia to consider the salutogenic dynamics of work with women with experiences of complex trauma and dissociation. The rewards of trauma work have been documented in the vicarious resilience literature, which explains how trauma workers are inspired by and learn from their clients. Participants in our study experienced such benefits. However, they also described what we term “vicarious resistance”. Resistance is a key concept in radical social work tradition.

Our research suggests that, for experienced complex trauma workers, effective practice is often underpinned by an ethics of care that counters resource-constrained and transactional health service models. Participants described a relational model of trauma practice that facilitates personal growth for themselves and their clients. They situated the negative effects of trauma work within a posture of authenticity and compassion connected to the meaningfulness of their work with trauma-affected people. We suggest that trauma professionals revaluing of care labour is a form of vicarious resistance, complicating the dichotomy of vicarious trauma and vicarious resilience, and bringing the social and political aspects of trauma practice into view.

In this workshop, we will present our findings and then invite participants to consider and contribute their own thoughts about the enriching and meaningful dimensions of their trauma practice, and whether the concept of “vicarious resistance” helps to articulate aspects of their professional experience. 

 
Potenial to Distress:
No

Target Audience

Beginning/Introductory 

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Identity the differences between vicarious trauma, vicarious resilience and vicarious resistance
  • Explain what vicarious resistance is and its relationship to social and service inequalities
  • Apply these concepts to their own professional experiences
  • Analyse the structural obstacles to effective trauma practice
  • Plan to address and prevent vicarious trauma and burnout and maximise the benefits of engaging in trauma practice
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 APA
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • 1.50 ASWB ACE
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1.50 continuing education credits.
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
Course opens: 
07/19/2023
Course expires: 
12/31/2050
Event starts: 
10/21/2023 - 6:30pm EDT
Event ends: 
10/21/2023 - 8:00pm EDT
Rating: 
0

Presenter: Michael Salter PhD

Presenter Bio: Dr Michael Salter is a Scientia Fellow and Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of New South Wales. He is an internationally recognised expert in the study of child abuse, violence against women and complex trauma. His published work includes the books Organised Sexual Abuse (2013, Routledge) and Crime, Justice and Social Media (2017, Routledge) and over fifty papers in international journals and edited collections. His research engages with policy and practice across multiple sectors, including mental health, social work, law enforcement and internet regulation.

Dr Salter is the President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) where he has served on the Board of Directors since 2018. He is the Chair of the Grace Tame Foundation, and he sits on the editorial boards of the journals Child Abuse Review and the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation.

Dr Salter is a member of a number of advisory groups, including the Advisory Group of the National Plan To Prevent Violence Against Women and Their Children, the Expert Advisory Group of the eSafety Commissioner, and the Advisory Council of White Ribbon Australia. Current projects include a study of legal and practice responses to the intersections of domestic violence and child sexual abuse, a study of trauma-informed responses for sexual violence survivors, and a national survey of LGBTIQ+ experiences of sexual violence.

 

Participants attending this session in full will receive 1.5 continuing education credits.

Available Credit

  • 1.50 APA
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • 1.50 ASWB ACE
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1.50 continuing education credits.
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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