The Cloak of Invulnerability: Secondary Trauma and the Helping Professional

  • David Prichard University of New England


As a mental health professional, the author has conducted scores of psychological debriefings for emergency workers and others impacted by work related trauma. Many of the reactions he witnessed among the workers could be described as secondary trauma, which occurs as a result of exposure to a traumatic event. It wasn 't until he was involved in a debriefing in which the victim was an acquaintance that he experienced symptoms of secondary trauma himself. This narrative examines the process of trauma debriefing and the secondary impact on the debriefer. Case narratives have been modified and names have been changed so that privacy and confidentiality are maintained. This article is dedicated to the emergency workers who put themselves in harm's way when helping others, and to debriefers who witness this trauma through ihe narratives of emergency workers.

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