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Practice Paper Invitation – Managing Vicarious Trauma for Practitioners – Tuesday 16 March 2021



TUESDAY 16 March 2021

Topic : Managing Vicarious Trauma for Practitioners

About this paper:

Working with people who have been traumatised is inherently stressful. It is unrealistic to think that those of us working in roles that are regularly confronted with other people’s trauma will not be impacted by the lives and stories of those we are assisting. The fact that we are affected is not a function of skill level, experience, or intelligence, but is instead a consequence of performing our roles well and in many instances caring about the lives of those we provide a service to. As professionals, the impact on ourselves can sometimes be hard to acknowledge. However, to deny, dismiss, or minimise our experiences will not only heighten our own sense of trauma but will lead to a lessening of our ability to effectively perform our roles over time.

This CPPAQ presentation will utilise the vicarious trauma framework to assist in understanding the factors that contribute to professionals experiencing work related trauma. The presentation will give an overview of the following:

  1. Exploring what vicarious trauma is and is not.
  2. Identifying factors that contribute to vicarious trauma.
  3. Identifying the potential impact on professionals.
  4. Exploring strategies to modify the effects of vicarious trauma.
  5. Exploring contributions to resiliency.


Speaker: Penny Gordon

Penny Gordon has a 38 year career as a psychologist during which time she has worked extensively across clinical and organisational fields of psychology. Penny is a highly regarded trainer and facilitator and as well as regularly presenting professional development programs has also taught across a range of graduate and post graduate university courses. Penny provides coaching and mentoring support services to a broad range of professional groups, in particular supporting those in leadership positions. In terms of the provision of therapeutic services, Penny has specialised in supporting adults who have experienced significant trauma as either an adult or a child. This area of work also includes working with a broad range of professionals, including legal and justice services, Qld courts, statutory child protection, mental health, oncology and palliative care health services, domestic and family violence services, homelessness and housing services, family support and intervention services and other first responder groups who are vulnerable to secondary traumatic stress due to their continuous exposure to other people’s trauma. Additionally, Penny has championed these organisations to be trauma informed in the delivery and design of their services. For the past 24 years Penny has worked in her own consulting business supporting organisations, teams and individuals to work effectively as possible in their fields of endeavour.

Penny has been an integral part of the CPPAQ story from its inception volunteering her facilitation and consulting skills to support the CPPAQ team and presented the very first CPPAQ paper in December 2011.


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