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Addressing Secondary Traumatic Stress in Animal Care Work

Room A

1 CE Hour

Presented By

  • -
    In-Person, Live Webinar



“Professionals working in animal care are in the unique position of being exposed to the stress and trauma of two primary groups – animals and the humans that are connected to them. This means that there is a double exposure to secondary traumatic stress. Charles Figley describes secondary traumatic stress, also referred to as vicarious trauma, as “the natural consequent behaviors resulting from knowledge about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other … the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person.”


Given the high degree of exposure to trauma in animal care work, this session will introduce participants to the concept of secondary traumatic stress including its causes and impacts on practitioners, teams, and organizations.



While exposure to secondary traumatic stress cannot always be avoided, a lack of tools to process such exposure when coupled with burnout, can lead to compassion fatigue. This session will introduce two methods to address secondary traumatic stress: nervous system health and team debriefing. Participants will engage in a real-debriefing session to embody its benefits, followed by guided discussions on ways to foster improved nervous system health and debriefing in animal care organizations.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify what secondary traumatic stress is, what causes it, and its impacts on individuals, teams, and an organization.

  • Critically analyze the importance of nervous system health as a way of managing exposure to trauma.

  • Apply knowledge about team debriefing to practice, identifying ways to embed this into animal welfare organizations.

CE Policy
This course is fiscally sponsored by International Association of Veterinary Social Work . There may be potential biases or conflicts of interest inherent to this relationship, and it must be disclosed to participants. These conflicts of interest have no bearing on the course content and have been resolved.
Angie Arora
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