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August 23, 2021 29 min

The recent world events and  subsequent bombardment of graphic tragedy in real-time have got me thinking once again, about the news, why I feel compelled to watch it, and what the (long term) negative implications might be. This week I look a closer look at vicarious trauma (VT),  ‘the negative transformation in the helper that results (across time) from empathic engagement with trauma survivors and their traumatic material, combined with a commitment or responsibility to help them’ (Pearlman and Caringi, 2009, 202-203). 

The greater the exposure to traumatic material, the greater the risk of vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma results from witnessing and engaging at an empathic level with those affected. And while the phenomenon of vicarious trauma is widely acknowledged, it can be challenging to recognise and deal with it. Its dynamics and `ripple effects’ are complex, pervasive and damaging. 

Risk of vicarious trauma can be reduced by lessening exposure to distressing material and using  music and other strategies to help you take time out, relax, distract or channel low mood.

If you are feeling edgy, irritable, teary, sleeping worse and/or ruminating, maybe take a break from the news. 

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