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Crisis Situations:

Traumatic stress and signs of burnout also occurs in times of crisis situations.  Those working with survivors of a tragedy can begin to shows signs of stress disorders ranging from difficulty sleeping to symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, avoidance, and heightened reactivity.  Changes can occur in workers as a result of experiencing traumatic events or witnessing the effects of those events on others.48

If stress is extreme and not managed, some individuals may experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

PTSD – a psychiatric disorder can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events. 

PTSD is marked by biological changes as well as psychological symptoms.  It is complicated by the fact that it frequently occurs in conjunction with depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition and other problems of physical and mental health.  It can impair a person’s ability to function socially or with the family.
The Power and Price of Survival: Understanding Resilience, Stress and Trauma, copyright 2009 - workbook created by Pamela Woll, MA, CADP/Human Priorities.

Trauma and Attachment Belief Scale – measures trauma exposure and identifies the effects of trauma on beliefs about self, others, and relationships

Trauma Symptom Inventory - easy-to-use, reliable test of posttraumatic stress

Signs of Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), Burnout, and Countertransference – provided by Patricia A Burke, MSW.

Psychological Trauma and Addiction Treatment – resource guide for addiction treatment clinicians and edited by Bruce Carruth, Ph.D.

Resources on How to Manage Stress in Crisis Situations:
A Guide to Managing Stress in Crisis Response Professions – booklet provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and was reviewed by a group of experts. Ms. Maria Baldi served as the Government project officer.

A Guide to Managing Stress in Crisis Response Professions – provided by SAMHSA’s Disaster Relief Information

Care Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event: What to Expect in Your Personal, Family, Work, and Financial Life – provided by the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS)

It should also be noted, however, that those who have worked with trauma survivors may also experience a power sense of satisfaction with this work.  Charles R. Figley called this “Compassion Satisfaction,” describing the development over time of a much stronger:

  • Sense of strength
  • Self-knowledge
  • Confidence
  • Sense of meaning
  • Spiritual connection
  • Respect for human resiliency49


Visit the "Resilience, Stress, and Trauma" section of the Human Priorities Website.

Visit the Traumatic stress section of the ATTC Network Website for further details.

Click on the following links for:

Self Care
Information on Burnout and Compassion Fatigue
Compassion Stress and Burnout Signs
Case Studies
Self Care and Life Style Balance
Specific Steps


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