It is something that commonly shows up in certain professions, but it can show up in other places as well.
“Supporting people through their traumatic situations can be a trauma of its own, called secondary trauma. It’s especially common among helping professionals.”
Recently, I’ve been having one-on-one meetings with all the teams I work with to gather information on their training goals for the year and use that information to plan some training activities.
When I started on this, I didn’t realize I’d be doing these sessions in the wake of layoffs and the middle of a bunch of other changes impacting these folks. Suddenly the conversation about their career goals has turned into a conversation about the trauma of going through a layoff.
As I mentioned to someone recently, this was more emotional labor than I had anticipated. That has meant being careful with my self-care. It meant taking breaks between these discussions, finding something less intense to work on during those breaks, stepping away from work physically and mentally at the end of each day, and finding things I enjoy doing to look forward to.
It’s not the same as some of the trauma a nurse or therapist would deal with daily, but it’s secondary trauma nonetheless.
If you’re in a position where you hear many trauma stories or support people dealing with trauma, I hope you’ll recognize the risks and read the link below to learn about taking care of yourself.