An Essential Survival Tool for Helping Professionals

Working with individuals, families and communities in any capacity is rewarding work for all types of service providers, however, supporting survivors of trauma, violence and abuse comes with a host of challenges that can deplete internal resources of those in the front-line caring professions.

Front-line workers are very knowledgeable about self-care and healthy coping strategies as healing tools for those they support, however, their own self-care practices often get neglected and forgotten, and that can put their world out of balance.

This is increasingly evident as we are asked to do "more and more with less and less," which may also threaten to overwhelm coping abilities. The most important part of coping with the intensity of the work is to acknowledge its impact on mind, body and spirit.

Understanding impacts of burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma and the importance of engaging in self-care strategies are essential coping mechanisms for front-line workers and agencies alike to develop and maintain.

With this in mind, this presentation will provide an overview of:

  • Compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue
  • Vicarious traumatization and burnout
  • The factors that contribute to these concepts

Participants will have the opportunity to explore and share self-care strategies within a holistic framework.

Upcoming Workshop(s):


About the Facilitator:

Kathleen Gorman has been working in the fields of trauma, grief and loss, mental health and addictions, as well as domestic and sexual violence for over 38 years with Indigenous families and communities, government services, and not-for-profit agencies. She has held various leadership, clinical counselling, and community development positions in rural and urban locations. Her clinical social work practice is trauma-informed and holistic: Incorporating expressive arts, somatic/sensorimotor psychotherapy approaches, EMDR, CBT and other contemporary modalities and traditional Indigenous ways of knowing and healing. In her consulting/training private practice, areas of focus include vicarious/secondary trauma, historical trauma, trauma-informed practice, provision of trauma-informed clinical supervision and supporting agencies to develop trauma informed service delivery approaches.

She holds a BSc in Psychology, a Graduate Degree in Health Administration, a Masters in Health Law and a Masters in Social Work, Clinical Social Work Practice. Kathleen is a registered social worker and a certified trauma treatment specialist (CTTS) with the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists and a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner. She provides individual and group counselling at Aboriginal Counseling Services Association of Alberta and is a sessional instructor for the University of Calgary Faculty of SW and field coordinator/sessional instructor for the School of SW at Grant MacEwan University.

Participant Feedback:

"When I am numb, I cannot tell if I am hurting others. We cannot be numb in our work with clients."
"A highlight for me in the day was realizing that even when one has worked through their own trauma, triggers can occur."
"An insight I had was that I need to practice self-care more and make suggestions to my team for better self-care at work as a team."