Special Interest Groups

SIG Update: the Vicarious Trauma and Resilience SIG Update

The Vicarious Trauma and Resilience SIG’s (VTR-SIG) purpose and role is to support each other as healers’ and caregivers with the impacts on us of our client’s trauma, and recognize, prevent and mitigate the effects of the vicarious trauma that is a part of our work as trauma therapists. The VTR-SIG focuses on the therapist and seeks to rejuvenate, prevent or heal the therapist through support, information, understanding and more. 

The VTR-SIG in the past had co-chairs; whereas in 2023 our executive leadership team included incumbent co-chair Cynthia Wilson who became the single chair, incumbent secretary Barb Shaya returned in her role, and we graciously welcomed Katherine Herndon as the new moderator. During 2023 the VTR SIG executive team chose to have 4 peer support group gatherings and 4 executive meetings, both to support the executive team in our tasks as well as to support the membership with vicarious trauma or preventative needs. These meetings all proved to be supportive and were a wonderful outlet and opportunity for connection to others who fully understand the work we do with individuals who have experienced traumatic life events. Every time we met, members shared how they felt more grounded and refreshed even if it was a meeting at the end of a grueling day, or more prepared for a daunting week ahead. 

The ISSTD Annual Conference in Louisville provided us with a unique opportunity to showcase some of the self-care tools that can be done for ourselves and share them with the general membership by providing hands-on activities in the Self-Care corner of the conference. This was a place where the executive members could be found sitting during the conference. We even held our membership meeting in that space while we used some of the items in the self-care corner. 

At the beginning of the year, we took a survey of members’ likes/dislikes and wants from the SIG. This helped us plan our meeting dates and times and the topics for the peer support group meetings. The topics and dates for the support meetings were: 

March 6th: Expanding resiliency and sharing self-care resources; discussing what resources to share at the ISSTD annual conference self-care space 

July 7th: Barb Shaya provided a short psychoeducational presentation on burn out, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization: Similarities, differences, symptoms, and preventative measures that was followed by a healthy discussion 

September 18th: Balancing self, family, and client load: Feeling ineffective with clients 

November 6th: Spooky season stressors and seasonal triggers for clients and self: How to cope and support each other 

During this time the secretary has gotten her doctoral dissertation to the point of gathering research participants, the moderator has started a doctoral program, and the chair has completed another chapter in a book that brings dissociation and DID into the therapy world’s awareness. Supporting each other through advocacy and education! 

The VTR-SIG would like to invite more involvement in the support groups during 2024 (schedule TBD). Even if you are only able attend for a short bit of the hour gathering, you are welcome. We also invite help with the leadership and support of the SIG in any way you see might be fun for you! We know that life is stressful, our jobs are full, and it can feel we are alone in this, BUT the VTR-SIG is here for you, here for us! Please pop in and say hello!