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D R R O S E F A L Z O N
E A C M A L T A C O N F E R E N C E
A P R I L 2 0 1 4
Practitioners' Experience of Vicarious
Helpl...
Helplessness in Practitioners
 Usually in the practitioner world we discuss burnout
and vicarious traumatization however ...
Helplessness in Practitioners
 While exposure to traumatic narratives can affect all
practitioners across therapeutic mod...
Burnout or
Compassion
Fatigue
 Burnout is a condition that begins
gradually and becomes progressively
worse.
 Overextend...
Vicarious
Traumatization
 A shift in the therapist’s world
view and core beliefs as a result of
primary or secondary expo...
Vulnerability
to Vicarious
Helplessness
Child welfare staff have to deal with
both direct and secondary exposure
to trauma...
Vulnerability to Vicarious Helplessness
 Horowitz (2006) notes that “vicarious exposures to
the events of clients’ lives ...
Small Group Exercise
 Does working with this client group make the
practitioner feel more helpless than when working
with...
Neurological level of mirroring
 Wegner et al (2004) supports the notion
that the phenomenon of mirroring takes
place on ...
Neurological level of mirroring
 Helplessness can thus be one of these experiences felt on
a deep level: neurologically, ...
Recognising the Indicators that manifest
Vicarious Helplessness
The practitioner and supervisor need to be
sensitive and m...
What might alleviate the feeling of vicarious
helplessness
 Organizational aspects
 Personal aspects
 Resilience
 Self...
Caring for yourself
while helping others
does not make you
dependant, selfish
incapable or needy. The
care and support tha...
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Dr Rose Falzon - Vicarious Helplessness

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Very often practitioners experience vicarious helplessness when dealing with children adolescents Dr Rose Falzon gave a workshop on this at the European Association for Counselling Conference in Malta 2014

Published in: Healthcare, Health & Medicine
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Dr Rose Falzon - Vicarious Helplessness

  1. 1. D R R O S E F A L Z O N E A C M A L T A C O N F E R E N C E A P R I L 2 0 1 4 Practitioners' Experience of Vicarious Helplessness when working with Children and Adolescents
  2. 2. Helplessness in Practitioners  Usually in the practitioner world we discuss burnout and vicarious traumatization however from my practitioner and supervision work, I very often encountered practitioners experiencing vicarious helplessness.  Affects as witnesses and healers within our practitioner work
  3. 3. Helplessness in Practitioners  While exposure to traumatic narratives can affect all practitioners across therapeutic modalities and practices, practitioners working with children / adolescents may encounter more the narratives and witnessing of helplessness through the eyes of clients still in a phase where dependency on significant others is very present and autonomy in decisions and ways of living is limited.
  4. 4. Burnout or Compassion Fatigue  Burnout is a condition that begins gradually and becomes progressively worse.  Overextending our capacity to help and support others and reach the demands of the caseloads  How does one recognise burnout and its cumulative effects  Working through burnout
  5. 5. Vicarious Traumatization  A shift in the therapist’s world view and core beliefs as a result of primary or secondary exposure to traumatic imagery and empathic engagement with trauma victims/survivors.  The symptoms of vicarious traumatization  Working through Vicarious Traumatization
  6. 6. Vulnerability to Vicarious Helplessness Child welfare staff have to deal with both direct and secondary exposure to trauma which may lead to vicariously feeling helpless. When traumas impact children the helplessness experienced may be enhanced exponentially as children and adolescents are more defenceless and cannot act on their own accord.
  7. 7. Vulnerability to Vicarious Helplessness  Horowitz (2006) notes that “vicarious exposures to the events of clients’ lives are unavoidable for child welfare workers and may be more toxic because they more fully reflect workers’ lack of control and inability to adequately impact clients’ lives”.  These situations lead to vicarious helplessness: feeling consistently helpless and powerless to be effective in the unjust situations encountered and unable to control outcomes when working with vulnerable children and adolescents.
  8. 8. Small Group Exercise  Does working with this client group make the practitioner feel more helpless than when working with adults and why?  Have you ever felt vicarious helplessness and if yes what helped you to support yourself in these situations?  DISCUSSION
  9. 9. Neurological level of mirroring  Wegner et al (2004) supports the notion that the phenomenon of mirroring takes place on a neurological level.  Results form neuroscientists research  Hypothetical implication for practitioners in witnessing to clients’ traumatic experiences
  10. 10. Neurological level of mirroring  Helplessness can thus be one of these experiences felt on a deep level: neurologically, emotionally, physically, psychologically etc  In certain situations accepting our helplessness or powerlessness whilst remaining strong can be a real challenge.  Therefore, one of the first important starting points of beneficial awareness needs to be the realization that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are part of the burden one has to bear as a practitioner and that one is not alone in experiencing them.
  11. 11. Recognising the Indicators that manifest Vicarious Helplessness The practitioner and supervisor need to be sensitive and mindful to diverse indicators that may manifest Vicarious Helplessness such as:  Emotional Indicators  Psychological Indicators  Physical Indicators  Personal life Indicators  Workplace Indicators
  12. 12. What might alleviate the feeling of vicarious helplessness  Organizational aspects  Personal aspects  Resilience  Self respect
  13. 13. Caring for yourself while helping others does not make you dependant, selfish incapable or needy. The care and support that helpers provide to their clients can only be as effective and beneficial as the care they provide themselves . You can only give from what you have. “To keep the lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.” Mother Theresa

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