Secondary Trauma Stress

In an effort to address the very real issue of secondary trauma experienced by those working at the Juvenile Rights Practice (JRP), in June 2009 JRP’s Attorney-in-Charge, Tamara Steckler, formed the Secondary Trauma Stress Interdisciplinary Committee with members Chair Vicki E. Light, Malia Brown, Lina Del Plato, Lori Landowne, Karen Levit, Eileen Lopez, Brad Martin, Lisa Podemski and Nanette Schrandt.

The Committee began discussing, educating and supporting JRP staff to define and recognize secondary trauma stress, vicarious trauma and burnout and to develop ways to address it personally and professionally. Since then the Committee, with the assistance of the supervisors and staff from each office, has been active in providing training to staff and interns, creating surveys to measure both the impact of secondary trauma on JRP staff and the lessening of stress as the protocols and trainings have been applied, as well as leading and encouraging office discussions on methods to address and alleviate the stress.

The Committee has also, with the assistance of JRP managers, modified and developed internal protocols for addressing stress and has presented its work and findings at national conferences and law schools. The result of this work has been published in ABA Children’s Rights Litigation Section Newsletter in an article entitled, The Hidden Cost of Empathy: How to Address Secondary Trauma Stress in a Child Law Office.