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  • Writer's pictureHelen Haydock

The impact of supporting children who have experienced trauma

All Growing Futures’ training includes a discussion around self care. This is important because we know that supporting children who have experienced trauma can have a significant impact on staff wellbeing. In today’s blog we are going to explore this a bit more.

When we talk about the impact of supporting children who have experienced trauma there are a few terms that get used frequently. These are Vicarious Trauma, Secondary Trauma and Compassion Fatigue.

Put simply these terms relate to the trauma response an individual experiences due to seeing and hearing about others’ trauma. A person does not have to have experienced the trauma directly in order to experience the same emotional, cognitive and physical symptoms as those directly impacted. Often those in caring professions, including educators and teachers can be particularly susceptible.

Another term often used is burnout. Stamm (2005) defines burnout as being associated with feelings of hopelessness and difficulties in dealing with work or in doing one’s job effectively. The feelings usually have a gradual onset and reflect the feeling that one’s efforts make no difference. Burnout tends to be related to chronic/ongoing workplace stress rather than trauma exposure. Recent research has found a significant increase in the number of educators and teachers planning to leave the industry with burnout a key factor.

Before we look into practical steps we can take to reduce the risk of compassion fatigue and burnout we need to also consider self care and compassion satisfaction.

Self care refers to all the things we do to take care of our physical, emotional and mental health. I refer to it as “filling my bucket so I can go fill someone else’s”

Compassion satisfaction refers to the pleasure one derives from being able to do his or her work effectively (Stamm, 2005). Put simply if we support educators and teachers to work effectively we can mitigate some of the risks of burnout and compassion fatigue.

When we look specifically at supporting educators and teachers who work with children who have experienced trauma it is important to increase self care and compassion satisfaction.

The next few blog posts we will explore these concepts in more detail and consider some practical steps we can all take.


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