Issue 2019/2 (vol. 34)


Nina Ogińska-Bulik

Negative effects of work related to helping people after traumatic experiences – the phenomenon of secondary traumatization


Helping trauma victims, especially by professionals, can lead to secondary traumatization, also understood as secondary traumatic stress. Symptoms of secondary traumatic stress are the same as those of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and include four categories, i.e. intrusion, avoidance, negative changes in cognition and mood, and increased arousal and reactivity. Secondary traumatic stress occurs most often in social workers, therapists, probation officers and representatives of medical services (doctors, nurses, paramedics). This phenomenon is also observed in non-professionals, i.e. people who support or only accompany trauma victims or sufferers. Among the factors favoring the onset of secondary traumatization, there are factors related to work/organization and subjective factors, among which a special role is attributed to empathy. Occurring symptoms of secondary traumatic stress can be managed through the use of various types of interactions, including various forms of self-care.

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