Signs of Vicarious Trauma


Feeling Helpless and Hopeless “It’s really hard for me to get out of bed in the morning.”

A Sense that One Can Never Do Enough “There is no way I can ever get all the work done that I should.”

Hypervigilance “I must keep my guard up at all times to keep myself and those around me safe.”

Diminished Creativity “I can’t seem to come up with even a single possible solution to this problem.”

Inability to Embrace Complexity “There is good and bad, right and wrong.”

Minimizing “This person is making a bigger deal of her experience than it really is.”

Chronic Exhaustion/Physical Ailments “I am tired all the time.”

Inability to Listen/Deliberate Avoidance “The best part of my day is when I don’t have to do my job.”

Dissociative Moment “Can you repeat that? My mind was somewhere else.”

Sense of Persecution “My superiors are trying to make my job harder.”

Guilt “It’s hard to enjoy anything good in my life.”

Fear “I always feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Anger and Cynicism “I may be a little more jaded than I used to be.”

Inability to Empathize/Numbness “Feelings? What feelings?”

Addictions “I can’t start this afternoon’s meeting until I grab a cup of coffee.”

Grandiosity: An Inflated Sense of Importance Related to One’s Work “If I wasn’t here, this wouldn’t get done.”

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, a non-profit organization based in Northampton, MA, provides resources and training for an education that includes reflective insight as well as critical thinking.

Contemplative practices offer methods for developing this insight, through skills such as listening, mindfulness, and self-awareness of thoughts and emotions, empathy, and compassion. While contemplative practices are rooted in the religious and spiritual traditions, they have an important place in intellectual and ethical inquiry, including secular educational environments. These practices, when incorporated into a daily practice, can improve overall wellness and promote a state of calm in the individual.

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