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Secondary Trauma and Self-Care

Initial Questions to Consider

  • How do I nurture myself, especially after I hear to witness something difficult?
  • How has my involvement with the houseless community, or another marginalized community, affected me?

Psychiatric Times defines secondary trauma as “indirect exposure to trauma through a firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event.” Participating in the Dry Bones community can lead to secondary trauma because it exposes you to the traumatic stories and realities of our friends experiencing houselessness. To learn more about what secondary trauma is and how to respond to it, check out the resources below.

Secondary Trauma

Trauma Exposure Responses

(source: Trauma Stewardship by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk)

Whether we realize it or not, hearing about or witnessing someone else’s trauma affects us. In order to take care of others, we must be able to take care of ourselves. Identifying the ways in which other people’s trauma affects us is crucial, especially when engaging in difficult justice work. Take some time to identify which of the following ways of responding to others’ trauma applies to you.

  • Feeling Helpless and Hopeless
  • A Sense That One Can Never Do Enough
  • Hypervigilance (constantly vigilant, waiting for something to go wrong)
  • Diminished Creativity
  • Inability to Embrace Complexity
  • Minimizing (downplaying what you are feeling)
  • Chronic Exhaustion/Physical Ailments
  • Inability to Listen/Deliberate Avoidance
  • Dissociative Moments
  • Sense of Persecution
  • Guilt
  • Fear
  • Anger and Cynicism
  • Inability to Empathize/Numbing
  • Addictions
  • Grandiosity: An Inflated Sense of Importance Related to One’s Work

Learning to Self-Soothe with Joyce and Robbie from Dry Bones

Self-Reflection and Self-Care