A crucial element of responding to trauma, and one which very often is missing, is the wellbeing of staff. The Scottish National Trauma Training Framework recognises that workers’ past experience of abuse and trauma can impact on their capacity to respond to people affected by trauma.
This statement becomes even more relevant when we see that there is a high level of adverse childhood experiences among the Scottish population. The 2019 Scottish Health Survey showed
that 71% of adults reported having experienced at least one adverse childhood experience, the most common being verbal abuse (47 %), physical abuse (28%) and domestic violence (24%).
In other words, the chances that staff within services may carry traumatic experiences of abuse from childhood, not to mention situations like domestic abuse and sexual violence during adult life, are very high. This is why healing from trauma is as vital for workers as it is to the people they support. This doesn’t mean that people who carry trauma are less capable of being a supportive worker. Indeed, we all carry some level of trauma to a greater or lesser extent. Yet it is essential that any trauma-informed service, and indeed any organisation, has adequate training, supervision and support in place for its staff.
When these support mechanisms are lacking or inefficient, the trauma reactions of staff can increase. Like we have seen throughout the pandemic, more staff will experience
burnout, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, and vicarious trauma.
One of such mechanisms is “support and supervision,” which as we saw in our previous bulletin, is often the first thing that goes when staff workload increases. We want to reflect and talk more about what good support and supervision is and what workers feel would be effective and we would really love your help with this: please use the section below to tell us three things that you think are key in good s + s. On our next bulletin we will discuss the key principles of effective support and supervision and share some of your anonymised responses.