Vicarious Trauma. Compassion Fatigue in AttorneysAppellate Defenders, Inc MCLE Program - February 23,2018Ellen Stein, Ph.D. PSY15085 (619-595-4005; Steinphd8_@gmail.net)
l i m e l e p l c
12:00 pm W e l c o m eIntroduction of Presenter; MCLE Overview
12:05 arn W h a t
12:15 am Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue/Vicarious Trauma
12:25 am Managing Vicarious Trauma. Mitlgatiog.lrnp_at.
12:35 am Impact of Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue on Attorneys
12:55 pm C o n c l u s i o n / F i n a l C o m m e n t s
01 :00 pm E n d
Compassion Fat igue
What is Compassion Fatigue?Compassion faliguc is the cumulative physical,emotional and psychological elfcci of exposure to traumaticstories or events when working in a helping capacity, combined with the strain and stress of everyday life.It's important to note that comptission fatigue is different than burnout. While bumoul is predictable,building over time and resulting in work dissatisfaction, compassion fatigue has a narrower focus.Someone affected by compassion fatigue may be harmed by the work they do, experiencing intrusiveimagery and a change in world-view.Compassion fatigue is also known as vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic .stress, second hand shock and.secondary stress reaction. Regardless of the term used. compas.sion fatigue affects those in the helpingprofessions, including the legal profession, and is treatable.
Symptoms ofCompu.s.sion Fatigue Perceiving the resources and support available for work as chronically outweighed by the demands Having client/work demands regularly encroach on personal lime Feeling ovenvhclmed and physically and emotionally exhausted Having disturbing images from cases intrude into thoughts and dreams Becoming pessimistic,cynlctii.lrrilahic.and prone to anger Viewing the world as inhercnliy dangentus, and becoming increasingly vigilant alxtut personal
and family stifely Becoming emotionally detached and numb in profes.siona[ and personal life; experiencing
increased problems in personal relationships Withdrawing .socially and becoming emotionally disconnected from others Becoming dcmorali/.ed and queslioning one's professional compelence and effectiveness Secretive .self-medication/addiction (alcohol,drugs, work, sex, ftxxl. gamhjing, etc.) Becoming less productive and effective professionally
Treatment of Compassion FatigueThere are ways to mitigate compassion fatigue.
Awareness. Understand what compassion fatigue is and periodically self-assess for it. Debriefing. Talk regularly with another practitioner who understands and is supportive. This in-
volves talking about the traumatic material, how you think and feel about it, and how you arepersonally affected by it.
Self-care. Proactively develop a program of self-care that is effective for you. This includeshealthy eating, exercising regularly, getting adequate rest, and learning how to tum off the "fight-or-flight response" of your sympathetic nervous system and turn on the "relaxation response" ofyour parasympathetic nei^ ous system.
Balance and Relationships. Take steps to simplify, do less, ask for help, and stop tiying to be allthings to all people, including your clients. Start thinking about how you can work on balancerather than the reasons you can't. Working to develop and maintain healthy interpersonalrelationships will also increase your resilience.
Professional Assistance. Treatment from a licensed provider specializing in trauma may be benefic i a l .
Being Intentional. If you arc ovenvhelmed and struggling with depression, anxiety, substanceabuse, or compassion fatigue, put a plan for change in place. Recognize that the attributes thatcontribute to your professional success (e.g., motivated, pcrfectionistic, achievement-oriented,driven, fixer) and your work environment may be contributing to an imbalance in your life.Monitor your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Seek assistance to help you implement changeand redirect the thoughts that tell you, "I should be able to do this by myself." Your new mantracan become, "I don't have to do it all by myself."
How Compassion Fatigue Affects LawyersLawyers, like others in the helping professions, are at risk for experiencing compassion fatigue. Lawyers incertain practice areas, such as criminal, family or juvenile law may be especially susceptible to compassionfatigue, as they are regularly exposed to human-induced trauma, and are called on to empathetically listento victims' stories, read reports and descriptions of traumatic events, view crime or accident scenes, andview graphic evidence of traumatic victimization. Those with high caseloads and those with a highcapacity for empathy are also at risk for experiencing compassion fatigue,lawyer assistance programs (LAPs) are here to support lawyers. Judges, students and other legalprofessionals who experience compassion fatigue. Contact vour slate or local LAP.
How to Help a Colleague Affected by Compassion FatigueIf you believe a colleague may be experiencing compassion fatigue, encourage him/her to seek help.Contact a LAP for additional support and resources.
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racticing We ness
.Qwyers and Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderBy Tish Vincent
I ] t h e a m r i R H n i i . - - i n i l i c c m i r t -
Aliiiii>c were Kiiind. Oiirini; mylime ns a law derk in lli.ii onin.I was involved with coid-vasc
m u r d e r i r i a l s i n t o u r < i t i l i e c o i i n n K i n i s . o n e
ot'wliich liad |usi tjcen lemodeled. 't he |myciuiir.-. were dee|5 IwiRundy. the wikxI panel-mji looked ridi and serkuis. and 1 aanem-t)er teeiinj: like I was in an episode of l.ciwa n d O r d e r T h e c o u r t r o o m s v a r i e t l . h u t t h e
cokl-case murder trials had a haiinlint; .sim
ilarity. The defendants had committed heinous crimes iong ago and ilKHighi ihey hadgotten away with 11.
1 viewed many photosof\ictims. weapons. and crime scenes. I listened to victims'
family members and i e l f - d e s i r u c t i v e I x ' h a v i o r
bxaggerated startle response I ' r o b l e n i s w i t h c o n c e n t r a t i c r n
irepersonali/ation, a liierapeutic term
de.scribing the feeling of detachmentfrom life and the sense of ob.sen'ingo n e s e l f i n a c t i o n
Oerealizatlon. an altered sense of the
outside world leading one to perceivetilings as unreal"
I ' o s i - t r a u m a t i c . s i r e s . s d i . s o r d e r c a n l e a i l
to the overuse of unhealthy coping mechanisms, particularly .substance abuse. Thenaumaflzed or vle.iriously traumatized individual seeks escape from symptoms causing emotional discomfort. Alcohol and otliersubstances may initially seem like a solution. but the stJulion is temporary and maywel! lead to other prciblems.
If one considers a murder trial in which
the prose-culor. defense attorney, and judgeview crime .scene photos. Iiear grisly details of the defendant's actions, li.sten to thedefendant and the v ict im's re lat ives, i t is
.awyers ore trained to manage their emotionsand "stick to the facts/' but the facts con bedisturbing to hear.
Jjn^ 20M MichiQcn 6o' Journal
D racticing Wellness
nol clifficull i iinaf;ii)c thai .some, if nolall, of llie loijal profcsMonals invol\eJ mayoxiXTlcnco vicarious tniumati/.uion. Theyare ihon piitecl aj;aiivsl one anoilier in aniii.anil are ilic locus of eKjX.-ciaiions and dis-appoinimcnis of many inlere.sied panics.
Treatments for post-traumaticstress disorder andv i ca r i ous t r auma t i zo t i on
P o s t - l i a u m a i i c . s t r e s s c i i . s o r t l e r a m i v i c a r
ious irauniatizaiion respond to therapeuticinienention. Wlien an mdis idiia) struiyjlin^Willi tliese conditions makes an appointment with a therapi.M. there is a .sense of rel i e f t h a t s o m e < i n e w i l l l i s t e n a n d . s t r i v e t o
understand. A therapists office can be a satehaven for letiii) profe.ssjimals 'iverwhelmcdby symptoms,
I le.iling ircaimeni-s are eo.sniiive Ixih.iv-ioi.ii techniciiies. eye movement de.sensili-zatlon K-traininft. and empathic listcninji.I-olliAvini; ev.iluaiion by a mental healthprnte.vsional. .in individual may be reterrcdto a personal physician or a psychi.iirist formedication if therapy Is not progre.ssini;.
vie live in a lime when many educated
people aa- iryiiij; to understand the f.iciorsDiniributinp lo the sire.ss of praciicins law..A better umlerslandin}; ot pnst-iraiimatics i r e . s s i l i . s o r d e r a n d v i c a r i o u s t r a u m a i i / a t i o n
coiitribute.s !> a legal prole.ssionnl's .strategies tor self-caie Hopeluily. this brief articleoilers Insight and guidance lor tliose seeking aildiiional lielp from a qualified mentalhealth piole.ssional.
Tifh Vincenc, MSW, ]D,L M S W. A C S W. C A A D Cis a l icenseddinica!sociut
worker with expertise inthe tre.iirnenr of stihsldnceuse and merttul healthdisorders. She is also a licensed anorney with expe
rience in health law and alternative dispute resolution. Vincent is the program administrator Joithe State Bar of Michigan Lawyers and judgesAssistance Program.
E N D N O T E S1. Motional Institute ol iVental t-teolih. Pcf-cauirair
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Claims against attorneysare reaching new heights.Are you on solid ground with