Toward the Prevention of Vicarious Trauma and Empathic Distress with REAP

Vicarious trauma and empathic distress are by-products of engaging in work that includes ongoing exposure to distressing images, sights, and sounds and as well as exposure to personal stories of trauma. Research suggests that such repeated vicarious exposure to human suffering places human service professionals at high-risk for experiencing some form of work-related stress. Over time, this type of stress can have deleterious effects upon the well-being of the helper and their ability to deliver quality human services over time. In fact, research suggests that repeated exposure to traumatic material creates a certain vulnerability for developing vicarious trauma or some form of traumatic stress; therefore, it is imperative to the health and well-being of human service teams to have an active awareness of the signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma as well as various practical tools and techniques to help mitigate the emotional burden of regularly working with trauma.

I’ve developed one such tool that I call REAP. REAP is a tool that may be used by helping professionals to identify and release empathic distress while working on the front lines. The acronym REAP stands for Recognize, Establish, Adjust, and Practice and may help professionals to cultivate compassion while delivering services to others in need. I invite you to listen to my YouTube video to learn more…

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