Broadening the scope of trauma practice: Using fourth-wave Feminism and anti-oppressive theory to keep trauma work sustainable
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This manuscript thesis explores the impact of trauma work on counsellors, specifically looking at ways to increase the sustainability of our practice. It reviews existing literature on vicarious traumatization (VT) and vicarious resilience (VR) and related conceptualizations. These concepts are framed within the dominant biomedical model and represent the negative and positive effects of trauma work respectively. This review highlights that both can coexist and are suggested to be the consequence of a therapist’s empathic engagement with a client’s trauma story and subsequent healing. Informed by fourth-wave feminism and anti-oppressive practice, this thesis argues that the biomedical model is deficit-based, individual-focused, and grounded in Western practice yet applied universally. The manuscript thesis then explores alternative healing models that focus on empowerment of and collaboration with clients as well as an honouring of indigenous healing methods. Opening up the scope of trauma work beyond the dominant model implies engaging with a client’s story in a more meaningful way by considering their traumatic experiences in the broad sociopolitical context in which they developed and in which healing takes place. This approach is not only considered to be beneficial for a survivor’s recovery but is also suggested to contribute to the sustainability of trauma work. Recommendations are made to support practitioners in this process. These strategies focus on engaging in mindfulness and self-compassion, building a social support network, increasing self-awareness, adopting a political trauma lens, practicing from a strength-based perspective, and participating in social activism.