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Vicarious Trauma: Self Care in High-Stress Occupations

Posted - March 2, 2023
dealing with vicarious trauma

Like medical practitioners, social workers, and others occupations, the line of work that we do can be extremely stressful. As investigations and mediators, we are constantly dealing with conflict and trauma and are always in contact with someone who is experiencing a difficult and challenging period in their life. 

When you’re investigating that stuff all the time, that trauma can affect you. It’s called vicarious trauma. According to the Headington Institute, Vicarious trauma is an ongoing process of change over time that results from witnessing or hearing about other people’s suffering and need. It is most prevalent in the fields of victim services, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire services, and other allied professions.

In other words, listening to peoples’ unfortunate stories, listening to the concerns that they have, and dealing with the stress around all these complex issues that we sometimes deal with, can have an impact on us. It can impact our mental health. So it’s really important that we take the time to relax and take the time to take care of ourselves. Sometimes just taking five minutes to yourself can make you feel so much better.

Let’s take an opportunity to recharge, to feel good about what we do, to contemplate our experiences and put things into perspective, and really look after ourselves. Because we can’t do well for everybody else if we don’t look after ourselves.


About Dean Benard

Dean has been a professional investigator for almost 30 years, including roles as a police officer, regulatory investigator, investigations manager. He has run Benard + Associates since 2003. He and his team have conducted thousands of investigations in regulatory and workplace matters. Additionally, he is an advisor, consultant, coach, and leader in the investigations and conflict resolution communities.