Secondary Trauma in Child Welfare
In July of 2012, the Children and Family Services Training Center initiated a Secondary Trauma Prevention and Support Program for the North Dakota Child Welfare System. The program was developed to address secondary trauma prevention and provide support to child welfare social workers, supervisors, and administrators in North Dakota.
North Dakota Secondary Trauma Prevention Program
Currently trainings and consultation services are available to provide emotional support and psycho-educational training for North Dakota child welfare and Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP) staff and supervisors impacted by both acute and cumulative trauma.
Goals of the Prevention Program
- Provide acute care and preventative training to child welfare workers traumatized by their work with abused and neglected children and their families.
- Offer child welfare and QRTP staff information and strategies so they can better understand and combat the negative effects of secondary trauma.
- Provide a forum where staff feel safe and comfortable discussing their emotional reactions to the trauma they encounter in their jobs.
The Secondary Trauma Prevention program offers a multi-dimensional approach for responding to the emotional needs of traumatized staff working with abused and neglected children. Staff are seen individually or in groups of 2-15 people. The content of all meetings is completely confidential.
- Stress Debriefings are offered to groups of 2-10 staff members acutely traumatized by the death or serious injury of a child on their caseload or by another traumatizing or egregious event (e.g. ongoing abuse or neglect, or threat of assault against a staff member).
- Individual Consultation (up to three consecutive sessions) are available for staff wishing to share and process trauma related issues encountered at work.
- Secondary Trauma Training Seminar: This seminar is offered to all new child welfare staff in North Dakota. It is a supportive, psycho-educational training that utilizes didactic, experiential and therapeutic interventions to explore the impact of secondary trauma on staff. Strategies for protecting oneself from secondary trauma are also provided.
- Enhancing Resiliency Training Sessions are approximately 90 minutes in length and offered to teams of child welfare professionals on an as-needed basis. There are two primary objectives of these sessions. The first is to give staff an opportunity to “process” the trauma they are exposed to on the job in a safe and supportive environment. The second objective is to provide participants with tools and insight to enhance their resiliency. The facilitator has developed forty different trainings on topics such as: Posttraumatic Growth; Practicing Gratitude; Emotional Hardiness; Teamwork; etc.
- Secondary Trauma Training for Supervisors. The focus of this 1 ½ day training is to educate supervisors about the dynamics of secondary trauma and how they can assist their workers who have been traumatized. Supervisors will also gain a new appreciation for the role hardiness and self-care play in protecting their staff from secondary trauma.
- Enhancing your Resiliency: Bending without Breaking is a five-hour training focused on enhancing resiliency. In the training, participants expand their understanding of the role that cognitive restructuring, optimism and having a strong social support network play in overcoming the emotional, physical and psychological consequences of secondary trauma.
Secondary Trauma is defined as stress resulting from helping or wanting to help traumatized or suffering persons.Charles FigleyCompassion Fatigue, 1995
About the Secondary Trauma Project
The project was developed in consultation with former North Dakota resident and UND student, David Conrad, whom is a nationally recognized expert in addressing secondary trauma in child welfare workers and is uniquely qualified to serve as our consultant. Conrad has been a clinical social worker for over 35 years. He worked as a child protection caseworker and supervisor, foster care case manager, juvenile probation officer, prison social worker, hospital social worker, and has experience in private practice. From 1994-2000,Conrad was Director of Programs for the CIVITAS Child Trauma Program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
Since 2000, Conrad has been a Senior Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine in Denver, Colorado. Since residing in Colorado, he has served as a secondary trauma consultant assisting Colorado child protection workers. He has offered training on secondary trauma for other professionals in 25 states.
Secondary Trauma Training Contact
If you have questions or would like further details, please contact:
Peter Tunseth, LBSW, MS
UND CFSTC Director