Katharina Ley: Self care in trauma work

Working with trauma and torture victims requires high levels of empathy, compassion and containment. The countertransferences in such therapies are powerful and range from the helpless bystander, collusive parent, voyeur, nurturer up to the perpetrator. Vicarious or secondary traumatisation or compassion fatigue is quite a 'normal' reaction to the cumulative impact of victim's stories.

The therapist needs to find ways of transforming the experiences of horror and violence.
It is important to engage in activities which balance the negative and depressive view of the world which can be generated by dealing with trauma and violence.

In this workshop I want to facilitate an open discussion about the personal and institutional impact of Secondary Traumatic Stress (Figley, 1995) and principles and strategies of Self Care (Trauma Clinic of the CSVR Johannesburg, 2002). The workshop can enable us to deepen the awareness of compassion fatigue and to share our own precious experiences in dealing with it. Self Care is considered as a possibility to practice our own resilience since we are, as psychotherapists, 'our own tool' to do healing work.

(Workshop at: 5th EFPP conference of all three sections, 4th to 6th July 2003, Stockholm, Sweden)


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last modified: 2003-01-20