How Much is Too Much: Vicarious Trauma and Healthcare Professionals

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Michelle Talia Shalinsky


When working directly with trauma survivors, healthcare professionals are likely to become attached and involved with clients and their lived experience. Due to the cumulative exposure to clients’ traumatic stories, healthcare professionals often experience a phenomenon known as vicarious trauma. For this study I conducted six one-to-one, semi-structured qualitative interviews, ranging in length from fifteen to thirty minutes. The research findings indicated five major themes: background, experience with vicarious trauma, feelings and emotions, coping techniques and implications for future  students. Findings suggest that vicarious trauma is common among healthcare practitioners who work with trauma survivors. Unfortunately, currently there is a limited amount of research regarding why vicarious trauma is such an unrepresented aspect of the profession. Findings from this research study suggest a need to add self-care and trauma training to educational programs for healthcare students. Early prevention of vicarious trauma will prepare more resilient healthcare professionals. In turn, these professionals will be able to provide better care for clients in the future.

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Author Biography

Michelle Talia Shalinsky, Douglas College

3rd Year Therapeutic Recreation degree student