Vicarious Trauma (Coursework Sample)
• Explain the similarities and differences between vicarious trauma and burnout.
• Explain the similarities and differences between vicarious trauma and counter-transference.
• Explain two implications vicarious trauma might have on the counseling process. Be specific.
• Explain one insight you had or conclusion you drew for each comparison. Be specific.
Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course
1 Vicarious trauma is the exposure to a traumatic event indirectly through a first-hand account or a narrative of the event (Sexton 395). This is mostly experienced by individuals in whose professions involve helping others such as police officers, doctors, rescue workers, social workers, therapists, counselors and lawyers. Anyone who has a significant relationship with a trauma survivor can also experience secondary trauma. It also involves the helper’s altered or damaged perception of the world. The emotional symptoms of vicarious trauma include prolonged grief, sadness, anxiety, irritability, easily distracted, feelings of insecurity and increased changes in moods and sense of humor. A person suffering from vicarious trauma also isolates themselves, may engaged in substance abuse, differences in eating habits and insomnia, loss of hope and increased negativity and cynicism among others.
Burnout on the other hand is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion as a result of prolonged and excessive stress (Devilly, Wright and Varker 374). It comes about when the person is feeling stressed, emotionally drained, overwhelmed and the inability to meet deadlines and constant demands. Prolonged burnout can also lead to reduced motivation and interest in responsibilities and tasks. Burnout is sometimes confused with vicarious trauma but unlike vicarious trauma, burnout does not essentially have to involve a traumatic story or event. Burnout comes from working in toxic environments and tedious jobs. The symptoms of burnout are similar to those of vicarious trauma such as anxiety, headaches, insomnia, and increased cynicism.
2 Vicarious trauma occurs when the helper is given a first-hand account or narrative of a traumatic event and it negatively affects them to the point of altering their perception of the world. Counter transference on the other hand, occurs when the helper or therapist starts projecting their own unresolved issues and conflicts towards the client (Fordham 243). The symptoms of vicarious trauma are usually inevitable while those of counter transference usually involve unreasonable dislike towards the client, over-emotional and preoccupation with the client and the case and feeling uncomfortable during or dreading the therapy session. Counter transference is also specific to the relationship between the helper and the client while vicarious trauma is cumulative and is manifested through increased empathetic relationships with the clients.
3 Individuals in the helping profession with increased levels of vicarious trauma have a higher chance of being less efficient (DeRico 37). It affects the person in various ways based on certain variables such as the personality, past experiences, education and training and the person’s self-care strategies (Pack 69). It results to challenges and incompetence in the workplace. Some therapists have also reported increased symptoms of burnout. Vicarious trauma alters the professional helper’s view of the world and this is likely to affect their professional process as such individuals are highly likely to disregard their education and training and counsel the client based on their new beliefs.
4 From the first comparison, it is clear that vicarious trauma only occurs over time and when the professional is only dealing with patients that have experienced traumatic events. Burnout may be a symptom of vicarious trauma and doe
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