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Lancaster County ACEs & Resilience Connection (PA)

Working collaboratively with schools, business, healthcare, government agencies, social services, criminal justice systems, healthcare organizations & faith communities to become a trauma-informed community. We invite all concerned citizens, professionals & advocates to partner with us to raise awareness about trauma & its effects, to build resilience, and offer hope & healing.

Vicarious Trauma, Compassion Fatigue and Self-Care for Your Team

Here's the first in a planned monthly series of "curated resources" for our Trauma Informed Lancaster County partners to help keep the momentum going in our individual, organizational and community-wide efforts toward becoming more trauma-informed.

Trauma-informed care has a two-pronged focus on:

  • the safety and well-being of the people your organization serves (clients, consumers, program participants, patients, students, etc), AND
  • the safety and well-being of your organization’s staff. 

 With regard to safety and well-being of staff, becoming a trauma-informed organization includes:

  • dedicating resources to employee wellness,
  • recognizing and responding to burn out and compassion fatigue/vicarious trauma in staff, and
  • providing interventions, benefits and services to address trauma among staff.


Toward that end, here's a 12 minute video on vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and self-care for helping professionals (link below) accompanied by a simple 2 page handout of self-care ideas (attached).

1) VIDEO:  Drowning in Empathy: The Cost of Vicarious Trauma

The video is a 12 minute TED Talk by Amy Cunningham (bio below) that addresses the subjects of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue that helping professionals like first responders, healthcare professionals, police officers, social workers, counselors, therapists, child protective service workers, caregivers, and others experience in their work. The talk covers some of the warning signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue, and the ways this can affect our physical and mental health, our relationships, and our work. It also offers encouragement and specific suggestions for identifying, understanding and addressing these issues and healthy approaches each of us can follow to move toward “post-traumatic growth.”   

Presenter bio: Amy Cunningham is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer who has spent the past 20 years working with mental health organizations and non-profits to address compassion fatigue among their staff. She is a certified Compassion Fatigue Educator through Green Cross Traumatology and has traveled throughout the nation advocating a balance between work life and taking care of oneself.

2) HANDOUT: Self-Care: Finding the Time - As the handout explains, “Self-care does not have to be time consuming. As nice as it would be to take a 3 week vacation to a tropical island, most of us do not have the time or resources for that.” The handout provides specific ideas for simple self-care practices that can be carried out when you have 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 30 minutes to spend.


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