Working with trauma: the problem of trust in human service organisations

Author(s)Gibson, Kerry
Title Working with trauma: the problem of trust in human service organisations
Source Pearce, Zoe J (Ed.) Appreciating Relationships: Continuity and Change; Conference Proceedings; The 8th Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society's Psychology of Relationships Interest Group. Melbourne: Australian Psychological Society, 2008: 20-26.
Date 2008
Document type Book chapter
Coverage Australia
Summary This article examines vicarious traumatisation in organisations working with traumatised clients. The paper discusses the range of concepts developed to explain the effect on workers, such as burnout, secondary traumatisation, compassion fatigue, empathic strain, and vicarious traumatisation. The author in her study analysed three organisations in South Africa and followed developments in these organisations at a 2 year and 8 year period. Some trauma related themes that develop in the organisational culture are identified and discussed. These are the cultures of detachment; helplessness; suspicion; togetherness; and disintegration. The author concludes that the recognition of vicarious traumatisation has resulted in organisations more sensitive to the needs of individual staff but more needs to be done for the organisation as a whole. It is suggested, for example, that a thinking culture needs to be developed where people have an awareness of the stresses inherent in trauma work and may be willing to seek help without fear of censure.
Keywords Trauma; vicarious trauma; service workers health.
Topic Psychological effects and treatment; service delivery