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Transforming Vicarious Traumatization: Enhancing Self-Compassion, Resiliency, and Self-Care for Therapists

Friday, March 23, 2018

A hotline worker confessed, “I used to believe the world was basically fair and that people were basically good. Now I think fate is fickle and I don’t trust anyone,” (quoted in Saakvitne and Pearlman, Transforming the Pain). The work of psychotherapy can change practitioners for better, and for worse. Compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatization, and secondary traumatic stress are all terms that describe the negative change therapists can experience as a result of their work with trauma survivors. Join leading expert in psychological trauma and therapist self-care, Dr. Karen Saakvitne, in an experiential workshop that emphasizes how the work of psychotherapy can change practitioners and offers specific strategies to build therapist resilience. In particular, she will present an overview of vicarious traumatization – emphasizing the aspects of the self of the therapist affected and the contributing factors -, and introduce systemic and applied approaches to addressing and transforming the negative impact of our difficult but rewarding work.

Participants will engage in opportunities to assess their own experience and to develop individual strategies for self-compassion and self-care. This interactive presentation will emphasize the integration of strategies for physiological resilience, spiritual balance, and enhanced community connection to create healthy practices. This workshop will highlight the essential roles of colleagueship and clinical consultation in creating self-protective practices. Participants can expect a workshop day filled with opportunities to engage in exploration and development of specific strategies for individual and collective self-care.  

About the speaker: Dr. Karen Saakvitne (Sock-quit-knee) is a clinical psychologist and former clinical director of the Traumatic Stress Institute in South Windsor CT where, with Laurie Anne Pearlman, she wrote the two original books on vicarious traumatization (Trauma and the Therapist, and Transforming the Pain).  She is the lead author of Risking Connection, a training curriculum for working with survivors of childhood trauma and the author of the teaching manual for that curriculum (Relational Teaching, Experiential Learning), and of a parenting resource handbook, Support for Survivor Parents: Breaking the Cycle of Abuse One Day at a Time.

She is a Risking Connection Faculty Trainer, and a nationally and internationally recognized expert in psychological trauma who has taught workshops and trainings to mental health professionals and offered clinical consultation to hundreds of clinicians over 30 years.  She has received awards for distinguished contribution to the practice of trauma psychology from both the Connecticut Psychological Association and the Division of Trauma Psychology of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Saakvitne is currently in private practice offering psychotherapy and clinical consultation in Northampton, MA and on the faculty of the doctoral program at Smith School of Social Work.



This program is sponsored by the New Hampshire Psychological Association (NHPA). NHPA is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. 

Dr. Karen Saakvitne

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