Secondary traumatic stress is defined by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), a leading research and innovator in therapeutic techniques on childhood and family trauma, as “the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another… For therapists, child welfare workers, case managers, and other helping professionals involved in the care of traumatized children and their families, the essential act of listening to trauma stories may take an emotional toll that compromises professional functioning and diminishes quality of life.”

At a later time, we will talk about how you can help develop resiliency, identify secondary trauma, and how to prevent it. For now, take a look at this video by Leah Warshawski that explains secondary trauma… even if she doesn’t know she’s describing it.

Leah creates films for a living. As she talks about in the TEDx talk below, she notices how she is directly influenced by the works she does, especially those that are personal to her. She doesn’t have to have lived in WWII, the stories are enough. She doesn’t have to understand what it means to have that intense fear, she sheds tears as they do.

Pastors, you do not have to have experienced what your congregation members have directly experienced to be traumatized. Hearing the experiences themselves can be traumatic in and of themselves. So you need to take care of your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Guard yourself against secondary trauma.

What are your thoughts on secondary trauma?

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is the Co-Occurring Program Coordinator and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at a community mental health center. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Colorado and Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *