VICARIOUS TRAUMA - A GROWTH MINDSET APPROACH
WHAT IS VICARIOUS TRAUMA?
Vicarious Trauma can occur in Foster Care when you have responsibility to support and nurture young people who have experienced traumatic incidents. It is usually a culmination of hearing about distressing or emotionally disturbing experiences, which overwhelm your usual coping mechanisms.
When experiencing Vicarious Trauma, your brain has reached a point where it is unable to rationalise what it hears in the proper way, and you begin to experience symptoms that you might have felt if you had gone through the experience yourself.
Growth Mindset can help in two ways ...
PERSEVERANCE AND DETERMINATION TO CHANGE THINKING PATTERNS
AND PRIORITISING SELF CARE TO BUILD AND MAINTAIN RESILIENCE.
SELF-CARE IS ESSENTIAL
As a Foster Carer self-care is a necessity rather than a treat, or something to do if you have time ... it's essential to maintaining resilience for positive mental health and stability.
When investing scheduled time in yourself you're investing in the young people that you care for, filling your tank with the reserves needed to navigate the situations and circumstances you experience.
ACCESS OUR SELF CARE RESOURCES FROM THE LINKS BELOW
ASK FOR HELP
An important aspect of thinking with a Growth Mindset, is being able to ask for help when it's needed ... staying stuck is counterproductive. When you can't solve a problem or issue with the information or skills you have, more expert knowledge is needed.
Your support network is essential to this process. Value and make the best use of what is offered, but when you need more ASK. Every fostering experience is different, and your need for scaffolding will change as circumstances dictate ... even with the most experienced of practitioners.
Vicarious Trauma often will need the skills of a trained coach or counsellor to walk you through disconnecting the overwhelm led reactions in your brain.
A helpful Growth Mindset tool is learning about 'Brain Plasticity' ... this understanding of the brain's malleability will help you work through what you're experiencing. Vicarious Trauma happens when your brain is overwhelmed and has formed connections wrongly, interpreting that what you have heard as having happened to you and reacting accordingly.
The first thing a coach or counsellor will help you to do to unpick this, is to solidify your thoughts. Journaling is the best way to help you become more aware of your feelings and reactions. It lets you unpack the thoughts from your head and gives you a starting point to work from.
Healing from vicarious trauma is a journey of looking at those thoughts and searching for evidence from your own personal experience to back them up. As your brain disconnects you from the experience, it will lessen the trauma reaction, enabling your brain to reframe and rewire.
JOURNALING TO BUILD RESILIENCE
This journaling resource should in no way take the place of appropriate / professional support where needed.
This is an ongoing process and can be repeated as many times as is helpful with the same experience as your thoughts evolve.
Actively journaling is an important tool for building resilience and Growth Mindset thinking in foster care, enabling you to gain perspective and develop coping strategies when they're needed.