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Understanding Trauma: Self-Care and Coping Strategies for Secondary Traumatic Stress


According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, secondary traumatic stress is emotional distress that results when an individual hears about the trauma experiences of another. In education, professionals hear and experience trauma through their students on a daily basis. With the onset of COVID-19, the prevalence of secondary stress in educators across the country has increased.


What are the signs of secondary traumatic stress?

  • Trauma. If you experience any of the symptoms we have discussed in prior webinars and blogs on trauma, then it is likely you may suffer from secondary stress. You can learn more about the signs and symptoms here.

What can I do if I don’t know if I have secondary traumatic stress?

  • Track it! Keep note of your sleeping patterns, eating behaviors, and general feelings. There are a variety of trackers you can use.

  • Take a survey. The Professional Quality of Life (ProQol) survey is a nationally vetted tool. It is also free! You can take this free survey here.

How do I treat/cope/improve my secondary traumatic stress?

  • Safe space. Just like the interventions we create for our students experiencing homelessness and other traumas, we must also provide similar structures for professionals working with them. Create a safe space for professionals to talk and share their feelings with others. Professional Learning Communities are an example of how a group can work to support each other emotionally.

  • Self Care. As with airline emergencies, you have to put your mask on first so you can help others. Get enough sleep, drink enough water, indulge in that piece of chocolate once in a while. Slow your walk down and enjoy the scenery instead of racing to beat a goal. Whatever it is, find joy. Check out this self-care toolbox to get you started.

Additional Resources:

Did you miss our Trauma Series? Don't fret, all of the resources and videos are right at your fingertips! See our NYSTEACHS page for the videos and slides.


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