Vicarious trauma self assessment

When a trauma-response helping professional or future supervisee is experiencing vicarious trauma, you must identify the presenting problem correctly.

Since many of the vicarious trauma symptoms present as burnout, countertransference, or posttraumatic stress disorder, it is critical to know what phenomenon the person is experiencing. Using an assessment helps to identify the proper phenomenon as well as creating interventions effectively.

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For this Discussion, review the Vicarious Trauma Self-Assessment and consider how this assessment is applicable to other trauma-response helping professionals and future supervisees. Also, consider the significance of using this assessment in the treatment and prevention of vicarious trauma for other trauma-response helping professionals.

Post your analysis and provide the following:

*Explain the components of the assessment.
*Explain the significance of each section of the assessment for vicarious trauma. Be specific.
*Explain the significance of using the assessment in the treatment and prevention of vicarious trauma for helping professionals and future supervisees. Be specific.
Support your answers using the resources and current literature.

Frame of Reference: Identity, Worldview, and Spirituality
Do you find yourself questioning who you are as a counselor, as a man or woman, as a parent or human? In what ways?

Has your exposure to traumatic life events resulted in changes in the way you view the world, including causality, life philosophy, and moral principles? Have you experienced an emergence of cynical beliefs?

Have you experienced spiritual impoverishment? Do you find yourself at a loss for a sense of meaning for your life, a loss of hope or idealism, a loss of connection with others or a devaluing of awareness of your experience?

Disruptions in Self-Capacities
Have you experienced a decrease in the inner- or intrapersonal abilities that allow you to maintain a continuous, relatively positive sense of self that is critical for self-soothing and affect tolerance?

Do you overextend yourself?

Do you overindulge or compulsively consume to manage or avoid affect (e.g., overeating, substance abuse, binge shopping)?

Do you experience frequent or intense self-criticism or self-loathing?

Do you have difficulty tolerating strong feelings or are you hypersensitive to emotionally charged stimuli (e.g., inability to read the newspaper or watch movies because they are disturbing or a numbing or insensitivity to emotional material that previously provoked a response)?

Do you feel a sense of isolation or disconnection from loving others?

Disruptions in Needs, Beliefs, and Relationships
Have you found yourself questioning whether certain basic beliefs cannot and will not ever be met (e.g., “I am not safe,” “People are not trustworthy,” “I am not worthy of being loved”)?

Have you noticed changes in the following schemas?

An increased sense personal vulnerability or capacity to do harm (safety)

A decreased sense of trust in your perceptions or judgments or in others (trust)

A devaluing of yourself for others (esteem)

An increased need for control or a decreased sense of control over self or others (control)

A decreased send of connection with self or others (intimacy)

Ego Resources
Have you experienced interference in your judgment that resulted in an inability to foresee consequences accurately?

Have you been challenged by establishing mature relations with others?

Do you have difficulty maintaining appropriate boundaries in relationships, personal and professional?

Trauma History
Do you have your own trauma history? Have you done personal counseling work to achieve resolution?

Behavior Changes
Have you noted behavior changes that relate to your disrupted cognitive processes (e.g., talking to yourself in critical ways, going out to avoid being alone, dropping out of community activities, or rejecting your partner’s sexual advances)?

SOCW 6333
Vicarious Trauma Self-Assessment

Questions adapted from:
Pearlman, L. A., & Saakvitne, K.W. (1995). Treating therapists with vicarious traumatization and secondary traumatic stress disorders. In C. R. Figley (Ed.) Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder. Levittown, PA: Brunner/Mazel.

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