What is vicarious trauma and who is likely to experience it? This complicated type of trauma can happen to people who may not even realize they have become impacted by it. When this happens, it becomes essential to seek effective, evidence-based care that helps the person overcome their symptoms. A vicarious trauma program can provide extensive treatment using several types of therapy proven to help people overcome their experiences with trauma.

What is Vicarious Trauma?

Vicarious trauma occurs when a person is exposed to trauma that happens to someone else. This is especially true when the exposure happens repetitively. It also can happen via indirect exposure, such as hearing a first-hand account of what occurred. This condition is also known as secondary trauma, secondhand trauma, and secondary traumatic stress. Vicarious trauma is not the same thing as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but it can lead to developing PTSD for some individuals. As well, it can contribute to developing anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of mental health disorders. 

Who is At Risk of Developing Vicarious Trauma?

Another key element to understanding vicarious trauma lies in who is at risk for developing this condition. This condition can happen to people whose professions expose them to people who have undergone trauma. These professions include police officers, paramedics, firefighters, physicians, nurses, therapists, and social workers. People who volunteer in these fields can also be susceptible. 

Because of their lines of work, these professionals are often repeatedly exposed to traumatic events such as accidents, injuries, illnesses, and physical and sexual assaults. While those very events can cause PTSD for those who suffer them, they can also extend to causing vicarious trauma for others. Additionally, people who have experienced their own trauma previously but have not yet dealt with it risk developing vicarious trauma.

Signs and Symptoms of Vicarious Trauma

When someone develops vicarious trauma, certain indications will occur. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lethargy
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks to traumatizing events
  • Excessive fear for the safety of loved ones and self
  • Becoming less interested or burned out on work 
  • Frequently missing work
  • Difficulty hearing details of trauma from clients and coworkers
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Isolating from others
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Questioning the person’s worldview or spiritual beliefs
  • Difficulty with intimacy with loved ones
  • Developing stress-related medical conditions
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs

What is Trauma Treatment Like in Atlanta, GA?

What is vicarious trauma treatment like? It begins with a full assessment of the individual to understand their situation. From there, a trauma treatment program can be implemented that will help them overcome their condition. Some people need residential care, which requires they live in a facility for several weeks or longer. 

For others, outpatient care provides them with the essential treatment they need to improve. These can include an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). IOP works well for people who need to attend several sessions a week while still being able to live at home. For others, a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) fits their needs. Similar to IOP, a PHP plan allows the individual to live at home while attending treatment during the day. The difference is they will need to attend sessions more frequently with PHP. 

Both IOP and PHP feature multiple types of therapy designed to help people who deal with trauma. This includes Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Both of these types of therapy help people identify their emotions and thoughts and how they relate to their behaviors. This can help them when difficult emotions and flashbacks occur related to trauma. 

Other types of therapy that can help treat trauma include:

  • Family Therapy: Trauma doesn’t just impact one person. Family members can feel the effects of someone they love suffering. This includes partners, children, parents, siblings, and more. Therapy can help loved ones come together in an effort to help their family members heal. 
  • Psychiatry: In addition to regular talk therapy, using medications can help a person overcome vicarious trauma. Prescription medications can reduce and eliminate many symptoms, allowing the person to ease their anxiety and other side effects of trauma. Some meds may only need to be taken on a short-term basis, while others may be more effective when taken long-term.  

Begin Treatment for Vicarious Trauma in Atlanta, GA

Do you feel you may have become a victim of vicarious trauma or know someone who deals with this? If you are asking yourself, “What is vicarious trauma and how is it treated?”, we can help answer your questions. New View Wellness in Atlanta provides quality, effective outpatient care services for people dealing with the effects of vicarious trauma. Our multi-disciplinary program includes several types of therapy designed to help you minimize and eliminate many symptoms caused by trauma.

If you would like to know more about how to overcome the effects of vicarious trauma, contact us today. Our friendly admissions staff is standing by to answer any questions you have.