Trauma Exposure Response: A Resource for Child Welfare Attorneys

As a child welfare attorney, you are regularly exposed to trauma. This repeated exposure to the intimate details of traumatic events results in negative behavioral, physical, and emotional consequences that can affect your professional and personal life. Trauma exposure response is an umbrella term encompassing various reactions and responses to being surrounded by and working with trauma. It is not necessary to personally experience trauma firsthand to develop trauma exposure response. Trauma exposure responses evolve through working with clients who have experienced
trauma, listening to traumatic stories or testimony, reading case files and materials about a client’s traumatic experience, and other ways in which you might indirectly or directly touch trauma. Developing trauma exposure response is a gradual, insidious process. Much is written about secondary trauma for mental health workers, first responders, and social workers, but there is less information available to attorneys who work with traumatized clients and traumatic situations. Due to the nature of your work as a child welfare attorney, you are one of the most at-risk populations for developing trauma exposure response.

Click to access the full report. Originally published February 2021 by the Family Justice Initiative.

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