Dealing with secondary trauma

Apr 8, 2021 | 2 comments

I’ve rewritten the start of this post multiple times. In my first draft, I shared a situation where I experienced secondary trauma . . . but knowing that it might traumatize you because it was fairly emotionally awful, I decided to break a cardinal rule for compelling writing.

Authors are encouraged to show, not tell their readers. And while this is useful advice when someone is writing a novel, it turns out to be poor advice when discussing secondary trauma. Secondary trauma is when you did not directly experience a trauma, but you are impacted by it.

For instance you might experience secondary trauma when:

— a friend tells you about a horrible experience she had

— you are a medical professional and work with people injured in a war or natural disaster (or any other ways people are injured)

—your young adult TCK was robbed in your passport country

—you hear your neighbor beat his wife or child

Suffice it to say, you can’t be on the field without experiencing secondary trauma. But you can be on the field, better equipped to handle the secondary trauma you encounter.

Kierstie Ersch of The Rapha Project is back this month to present Trauma Training 102: Secondary Trauma and Self Care. I have to admit, I winced a bit when I saw the phrase “self care,” and you may have, too. But don’t let that phrase get in the way of God’s heart for you and those who experience trauma. In the workshop, she answers the following questions:

—What is trauma? (Review from TT 101)
—What is Secondary Trauma?
—What can cause Secondary Trauma?
—What are the types of Secondary Trauma injuries?
—How do you prevent and cope with Secondary Trauma injuries?

If you missed Trauma Training 101: The basics, you can get it here.

Become better prepared for the secondary trauma you encounter through this month’s workshop. (As the workshop-of-the-month it will be discounted all month!)

Photo by Jonathan Ford on Unsplash

Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Supporting cross-cultural work.



  1. Michele

    I remember when I first heard the term secondary trauma and was like, “Ohhhh- there’s a name for that!” It was kind of a relief to know it was a legit thing. But it will be nicer to have some tools for dealing with it! Not sure when I’ll get a minute to do this workshp, but definitely purchasing!

    • Amy Young

      It is a relief to know it’s a legit thing, isn’t it Michele :)!! And we’re not weak or crazy . . . this is how God had wired us to respond to the hurt and brokenness of the world. Yet, we are not left to figure this out on our own. Kierstie’s training is so helpful!


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