Monday, October 6, 2014
Community Health News
Trauma in the Trenches
Workshop helps community service workers deal with emotional fallout
Submitted by Tracey Arsenault, Chilliwack
hilliwack is privileged to have a wide array of hard-working human service professionals dedicated to caring for our most vulnerable populations. Whether engaging in social work, counselling, child and family protection, medicine, emergency response, youth advocacy or teaching, these caregivers spend their lives serving our community when it is most in need.
Through their work, they can be faced with other people's trauma on a daily basis. So the question is, who is caring for the caregivers?
Terms such as burnout and secondary/vicarious trauma are familiar to many workplaces. It is not a secret that those engaged in trauma-related work are at risk of being negatively impacted by the daily exposure to client distress. This impact can be in the form of emotional, physiological and mental health problems for caregivers.
But there is good news!
An emerging theory in psychology called Posttraumatic Growth maintains that people exposed to trauma have the opportunity to experience personal growth in five main areas; a greater appreciation for life, awareness of new possibilities for one's life, spiritual growth, increased intimacy in relationships and recognition of personal strengths.
By choosing to engage in the distressing emotional and cognitive shifts caused by trauma exposure, people open themselves up to the opportunity for positive life-enhancing change. Furthermore, research on resilience suggests that Posttraumatic Growth may act as a preventative measure to future secondary trauma.
A workshop titled "Posttraumatic Growth: A Workshop for Human Service Professionals" was held on October 2nd at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Chilliwack. The event was offered to a variety of human service professionals who face secondary trauma in their work roles and was sponsored by the Chilliwack Child and Youth Committee and the Ministry for Child and Family Development.
The 40 participants, representing 15 different human service organizations, gathered as a community for an educational and experiential look at how trauma exposure in job related roles may be affecting them and how Posttraumatic Growth theory could be applied to their daily work lives.
Workshop facilitator and Chilliwack resident, Tracey Arsenault, is currently working on her Master's in Organizational Psychology at the Adler School in Vancouver. The focus of her studies has been on human behaviour in organizations and she has discovered a passion for promoting psychological health in the workplace.
Supporting our community's health and vitality is essential work. It is, therefore, just as crucial to provide human service professionals with the tools to increase their psychological wellness and resilience in the workplace. After all, where would we be without them?
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