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Trauma-Exposed Workplaces: The Critical Importance of Understanding and Addressing these Unique Stress Environments

February 25, 2015 | Vancouver Convention Centre

Facilitator: Dr. Patricia Fisher, R.Psych., L.Psych.

Workshop Description

Working in fields where we are exposed to trauma, both directly and indirectly, provides a unique pathway to personal and professional growth and the development of an informed wisdom. However, work in these areas also increases our risk for serious stress, burnout and trauma effects. Fortunately, extensive research over the past decade provides grounded approaches to effectively address stress in trauma-exposed workplaces. This workshop will provide a solid framework to understand the mechanisms of stress and resilience within trauma-exposed environments, and will introduce practical, best-practices approaches to increasing resilience and enhancing individual wellness and organizational health.

This intensive workshop supports participants by:

• Exploring the unique properties of trauma-informed work.

• Applying the Complex Stress Model of Workplace Stress which incorporates both the system-based stresses and traumatic stresses (direct trauma and vicarious trauma).

• Recognizing and normalizing the wide range of physical, mental, behavioural and relationship responses to chronic stress.

• Understanding the cause and effect relationships between the relative risk for systemic and traumatic stress, self-care strategies and stress-related outcomes.

• Identifying the personal changes participants have experienced during their time in the field (areas of growth and areas of concern).

• Applying the workshop learning to each participant’s personal experience and future planning.

• Considering the workshop information as it applies to participant’s workplaces, organizations and occupational sectors.

This lively and interactive workshop incorporates lecture format and group exercises to assist participants as they consider their own experiences and needs.

Definition of Trauma-Exposed Workplaces

Trauma-Exposed Workplaces are defined as work environment where individuals are exposed to both:

• Direct trauma: This refers to direct traumatic experiences – being assaulted, endangered, threatened, or intimidated. At the extreme end, the experience of primary traumatic stress can result in physical injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

• Indirect trauma (also known as vicarious trauma, secondary trauma, compassion fatigue): This refers to the impact of dealing with traumatic material at second-hand. It describes the effects of hearing about traumatic, violent and distressing events, or of witnessing others being subjected to traumatic experiences. The long-term effects of such second-hand exposure is also now recognized as placing workers at risk for a range of serious stress effects.

Occupational Sectors and Workplaces

Trauma-exposed workplaces typically include Healthcare, Social and Human Services, Enforcement, Corrections, Emergency Response, Armed Forces, Justice, Education, Volunteers and Caregivers. Of course other occupational groups may also experience trauma-exposure and are equally impacted by it.

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