By Kara Cavel, PhD, LCSW
As a clinician, I am familiar with the term 'vicarious trauma', or the impact clinicians experience working with individuals or groups of people who have experienced trauma. Recently, I read about vicarious resilience, the opposing force to vicarious trauma, and considered how this term might apply to me, to us right now.
Vicarious resilience is the “process of observing and even being a part of a survivor’s healing process and their personal transformation from surviving to thriving” (Tenty as cited in Morgaine & Capous-Desyllas, 2014, p. 231).
Is it possible to consider how we might serve as empathic listeners to those who share their stories of survival, especially among communities, families, and individuals who have experienced the death and devastating harm imposed by the worst public health and economic crisis experienced in generations?
How does the act of listening to understand rather than listening to respond create the conditions that can move us from surviving to thriving?
How does holding the truth of others teach us to hold our own truths?
If you have the capacity to bear witness to stories of survival, could this help to facilitate conditions for healing for others?
Conversely, if you can name and locate someone who can respond to your truth with understanding and empathy, is it possible to feel a shift toward healing?
Together, can we work toward finding a place to foster the conditions needed to pass along the truths of our experiences?
Together, let’s foster the experience of vicarious resilience.
Morgaine, K. & Capous-Desyllas, M. (2014). Anti-Oppressive social work practice: Putting theory into action. Cognella Academic Publishing.