Some Simple Guide Statements for Trauma Workers from
Dr. Honey Carandang of MLAC Institute for Children and Families:
- No one is immune to trauma.
- Trauma is contagious. Vicarious or secondary traumatization really happens.
- A social support system is essential to the recovery of both the person in crisis and the helper.
- Work with a team. Don’t do trauma work alone.
- The first thing to do is: Just be there with the person.
- Listen to his/her story without judgment (when he/she is ready). Empathize, be with, accompany the person.
- The traumatized person must be allowed to feel and express the emotions that go with the experience. (This can be done through expressive arts like drawing, music, movement, drama, etc.)
- Never trivialize their feelings.
- There is a need to validate that pain, depression, anger, etc., as real and normal reaction. (e.g. “ What is wrong with me?”)
- Pain that is acknowledged dissipates in time. Pain that is denied stays on and the person gets stuck, cannot move on. (This is the paradox of pain.)
- People deny, accept and go through the mourning process at their own pace. Respect their pace.
- Finding meaning in the painful event is necessary for one to recover and move on.
- Rituals (family, community, cultural) are very helpful and often necessary.
- Be aware of your own vulnerability as a helper – your pain and issues – and own them.
- Know when you need to ask for help.
From: Carandang, M.L.A. & Sison, B.A.L.,
The Path to Healing: A Primer on Family Violence, Anvil Publishing Inc, 2004.
*Note: Remember that not all survivors may be traumatized. These guidelines are for those working with traumatized individuals. For questions and clarifications, you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.