ACBHCS Agency Vicarious Trauma Support & Resources

Below are examples of ways that agencies within Alameda County are supporting staff and providers who are dealing with Vicarious Trauma, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout.

  • Reflective supervision, case conference, individual/group supervision
  • Safety guidelines for clinicians
  • Half the staff are part of a self care group where they identify weekly goals and check in with each other weekly regarding the goals
  • Provide food at office, meetings, and regular basis
  • Try to foster sense of community at office (picnics, personal check in times at meetings, celebrating birthdays)
  • Permission to feel and validate staff capacity to feel
  • Agency supports time off of work
  • Keeping positive regard for each other
  • Compassion fatigue workshop by Beverly Kyer
  • Supporting self care and self awareness
  • Agency mindful of how much growing and capacity for growth
  • Allowing opportunities for staff to grow (reduction of hours, 1 week paid staff training, chance to supervise, ability to have private practice on side)
  • Six staff per manager so managers can actually check in and keep pulse on morale
  • Openly discuss feeling of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Hired therapist for the therapist
  • Allowing staff to participate in traditional healing ceremonies
  • Yoga classes at agency
  • Talking circles for staff after traumatizing events
  • Message therapy provided
  • Lunch hour line dancing
  • Martial art (e.g. Tai Chi, Qigong)
  • Annual offsite staff retreat
  • Have outside mediator to come in and facilitate conversation between staff and HR
  • Patio area and coffee machine
  • Listening to staff ideas about how to do work, changes to make to agency
  • Celebrating anniversaries at the agency
  • Clear expectations about time off, billing, scope of work
  • Honoring small successes in cases
  • Discussing methods to avoid burnout

For additional information about Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue see also:

Vicarious Trauma (also called Secondary Traumatic Stress) is a term that describes the cumulative transformative effect on the helper in response to working with survivors of traumatic life events. The symptoms can appear much like those of post-traumatic stress disorder, but also encompass changes in frame of reference, identity, a sense of safety, ability to trust, self-esteem, intimacy, and a sense of control.

Compassion Fatigue

This term has replaced the more familiar term “burn-out.” It refers to a physical, emotional and spiritual fatigue or exhaustion that takes over a person and causes a decline in his or her ability to experience joy or to feel and care for others.