Social Workers and Post-Traumatic Stress

PTSD-Counseling-4The phenomenon of being traumatized by hearing about traumatic experiences is known as Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Social workers are among the first responders to traumatic events including 9-11, Hurricane Katrina and sexual assault.

A recent study found that repeatedly hearing the stories of trauma victims doubles the risk of social workers themselves experiencing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Reports Brian Bride, a researcher in the University of Georgia School of Social Work, “Social workers may hear about burnout and they may hear about self care. But they’re not hearing about Secondary Post-traumatic Stress disorder. We suspect that people are leaving social work because of this.”

The symptoms for both Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Secondary Stress Disorder are the same: unwanted recurring memories, bad dreams, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance and irritability.

Trauma therapy, particularly EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), has been found to be particularly helpful for this type of trauma recovery.