Secondary Traumatic Stress

Here at the Center for Trauma and Stress Education (CTSE) we developed a program delivered in a flexible format, that provides education and skills to reduce or prevent secondary traumatic stress.

This program is designed to help participants manage present stress and the cumulative effects of prior stress more effectively, to prevent the development of PTSD, decrease social isolation and increase skillful or more adaptive behaviors.

Secondary stress and trauma refers to the indirect stress and trauma that can occur when we are exposed to difficult or disturbing images and stories depicting traumatic events of others.  Over time, repeated exposure to difficult or traumatic content (disturbing images, stories, etc.) can have a negative impact on us in a variety of ways, including on our overall mental health and well-being. We sometimes call these the cumulative effects of stress and trauma.

This type of exposure, especially when repeated, can accumulate, and then affect the observers’ beliefs about the world and can create secondary (conditioned) emotional reactions.  These negative reactions can lead to reduced engagement in various ordinary activities.  It is common for people suffering from secondary traumatic stress to become more isolated and lonely often developing difficulties related to attention, appetite, sleep, self-esteem work/school and social and family relationships.  Additional physical and mental health problems can follow.

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