Thriving in the Trenches: The Impact of Trauma Exposure on Professionals
Research suggests that exposure to human suffering can come with a price for professionals who spend a significant part of their workday listening to, reading about, or otherwise observing traumatic material. At the same time… a career of service to people and one’s community is a privilege, albeit a horrible privilege at times. Helping professionals can experience the duality of feeling both burdened and honored by their work; they are not mutually exclusive reactions. When we bear witness to some of the worst forms of human suffering, we also have a front row seat to the resilience of the human spirit. And paradoxically, by making room for the negative consequences to be present and validated simultaneously creates space for the gifts to organically surface. This training explores an exciting body of research emerging in the neurosciences that suggests mindful practices and reconnecting to the meaning in human service work can transform stress (without reducing stress), improve personal wellbeing, and enhance professional longevity.
- Define and discuss primary, secondary, and vicarious trauma
- Review the new science of stress, compassion, and mindsets
- Describe evidence-based strategies that balance trauma exposure with meaningful experiences
Participants can earn 3.0 contact hours for attendance at the entire activity (It is the responsibility of the participant to determine if the objectives meet the criteria for continuing education for their profession).
Kirsten R. Lewis, M.Ed., is a probation officer with the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department (MCAPD); forensic psychology instructor at Glendale Community College; and co-owner of KSL Research, Training & Consultation, LLC. With a background in research and over 25 years of experience in community corrections, Kirsten spearheaded a ground-breaking research study examining secondary traumatic stress in probation officers as a result of working with criminal offenders. Her research was published in the American Journal of Criminal Justice and received the 2013 Sam Houston State University Award for outstanding contributions to scholarship in Community Corrections. In addition, Kirsten created a national award-winning employee stress management program at MCAPD that better prepares employees for the emotional challenges of probation work, enhances protective coping strategies, minimizes the cumulative stress associated with longevity, and promotes a work culture that safeguards the welfare of officers. Kirsten conducts a variety of trainings on the topic of traumatic stress and employee wellness with human service agencies around the country and has presented her work at conferences throughout the United States and abroad.