Being impacted by vicarious trauma is a predicable outcome ofbeing in a profession that is focused on helping others during or aftertraumatic experiences. Risk factors are practicalities that make an individual vulnerableto experiencing vicarious trauma. Recognising, and understanding, what those individualrisk factors are will make it easier to discover what might aid in the preventionof a worker developingvicarious trauma.A lack of self-awareness may have an influence on a counsellor developing vicarioustrauma. In crisis, blocking emotions can be a short-term coping strategy, however, it isnot effective long-term, and without acknowledgement, may increase over time.
However, if the counsellor puts in place a routine where they regularly examinetheir own feelings and thoughts, for example a daily journal, it may allow themto recognise changes in their own feelings and behavior.A poor life/work balance may also have an influence on a counsellordeveloping vivarious trauma. Where for example a counsellor in privatepractice, had a large number of clients, if the counsellor’s workload did notallow time for social activity away from work, this may increase thepossibility of them developing vicarious trauma. If, however, the counsellorensured that client numbers were manageable, this would enable them to spendtime socialising with their friends and family addressing their life/workbalance.
Poor organisational support may influence the risk of a counsellor developing vicarious trauma. If a counsellorwas employed by, or volunteered at, an agency that did not offer appropriatesupport, for example adequate supervision or relevant training opportunities,this may make the counsellor feel overwhelmed and isolated. However, ifstrategies such as a designated supervison officer or training workshops wereput in place, this would equip the counsellor with the support structures necessaryto aid them, address their concerns and gain the relevant knowledge torecognise the symptoms of vicarious trauma.