Managing Vicarious Trauma

Managing Vicarious Trauma

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. We are human beings who can now present ourselves as whole people, with authenticity, purpose, and connection. Especially now, when therapists must develop a personal brand to market their practices.

To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C is a clinical social worker specializing in complex trauma in her private practice outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She is also the host of Therapy Chat podcast. Laura offers individual and group consultation with clinicians who work with trauma focusing on addressing the impact of vicarious trauma, as well as creating a trauma-informed practice. Connect with Laura at

In this episode we talk about:

  • Laura’s story
  • The definition of vicarious trauma
  • Preparation to manage crisis intervention, trauma response work, and being on-call
  • Self-care, debriefing, supportive supervision
  • The cumulative effects of hearing about clients’ traumatic experiences
  • Over-work and negative self-concept due to the need to keep people safe
  • Decreasing feelings of competence and safety
  • Distinction between vicarious trauma, burnout, and countertransference
  • The fight or flight response related to secondary traumatic stress
  • Offsetting the negative impacts of vicarious trauma
  • Building community and connection
  • The limits of incident debriefing and the need for therapists to process their own stuff that is brought up by vicarious trauma
  • The importance of personal therapy, consultation
  • Critical Incident Debriefing
  • Taking care of yourself within a trauma-informed practice
  • The danger of ignoring vicarious trauma (PTSD symptoms)
  • Managing your emotions without shutting down or becoming disregulated

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together any resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Therapy Chat Podcast

Simple Self-Care for Therapists by Ashley Davis Bush

Trauma Stewardship by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

Laura Reagan’s Consultation

Laura Reagan’s On-Line Trauma Therapist Community

Laura’ Reagan’s In-Person Trauma Community

Relevant MTSG Podcast Episodes:

Therapist Safety

The Danger of Poor Self-Care

Our Next Event:

The Therapy Reimagined Conference in Los Angeles in October 2018!!

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more about Curt at

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more about Katie at

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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