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The importance of self-care for those at risk of vicarious trauma

This morning, I spoke to the Family Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association. After attending these breakfasts for many years as an attorney, it was fun to come back in my new role as a therapist. I talked about the concept of vicarious trauma: the behaviors & emotions that result when one hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another and witnesses another’s pain. This was a frequent topic in my master's program as there seems to be a greater awareness in the mental health field of the very real risks of absorbing our clients' troubles. While attorneys also hear in great detail about the trauma our clients have experienced, the profession has not focused on how this aspect of the practice impacts the well-being of lawyers. I shared some ideas on how to manage vicarious trauma including the need for self-care. This Self-Care Wheel lays out six different areas of our lives in which self-care is essential. I believe we can all benefit from doing a periodic inventory of how well we are attending to our needs in each of these areas.

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