What is secondary trauma? According to Figley (1995), secondary traumatic stress is “the stress resulting from wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person. It occurs naturally as a result from knowing about traumatizing event experienced by a significant other.” So, in other words, wanting to help someone who has experienced a traumatic experience can lead to our own experience of traumatic stress.
Example of secondary trauma: As I was listening to my friend sharing her traumatic experience, I learned some unexpected information. I knew he grew up experiencing physical abuse but as he shared that he has been sexually abused as well, I couldn’t stop thinking about the sexual abuse, and I started to become depressed.”
To reduce the impact of secondary trauma or even prevent it, be sure you practice self-care.