Helping professionals (Clinicians, social care workers, transporters, the police and others) who have close contact with people who have experienced traumatic events are susceptible to vicarious trauma from repeated exposure to aversive details of patients’ traumatic experiences. The recognition of a wide range of traumatic experiences-physical or sexual assault, motor vehicular accidents, life threatening illness, unexpected death or serious injury to significant others, bearing witness to severe human suffering, natural disasters, war, terrorism-has implications for understanding the vulnerability. Caregivers or family members are at even higher risk if they have a history of trauma in their own backgrounds and if they extend themselves beyond the boundaries of good self-care or professional conduct.
Vicarious traumatization is a term that describes the cumulative transformative effect on the helper of working with survivors of traumatic life events. The symptoms can appear much like those of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but also encompass changes in identity, sense of safety, ability to trust, self-esteem, intimacy, and a sense of control. Compassion fatigue on the other hand is the empathic strain and general exhaustion resulting from caring for people in distress, compassion fatigue is most often associated with helping professions such as first responders, drivers, nurses, physicians, care centre workers and those caring for the chronically ill in the family. Similar to vicarious trauma, it involves empathic engagement and secondary trauma exposure, which could present as PTSD-like symptoms.
Burnout is defined as a persistent state of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy as a result of work-related stress. The central domain of burnout is emotional exhaustion due to high work demands and often presents as frequent absenteeism, chronic tardiness, and underperformance on clinical and administrative responsibilities. Unlike vicarious trauma, both compassion fatigue and burnout are not specific to clinicians who work with trauma survivors, but all three constructs describe manifestations of emotional and physical exhautransformation.
We enhance personal and professional strategies for bringing about change in areas that will help reduce and prevent the further burnout and trauma among families, social care and helping professionals in NSW
Care for care givers'
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