Being Well Podcast: Secondary Trauma: Recovering from Compassion Fatigue with Laura van Dernoot Lipsky
April 25, 2022

On this episode of Being Well, Forrest talks with trauma expert Laura van Dernoot Lipsky about how we can better manage secondary traumatic stress, how to avoid burnout and overwhelm, and what it looks like to stay hopeful and live fully in the face of daunting societal challenges.

With so much suffering going on in the world that’s worthy of our compassion and engagement, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by it even as we have the desire to remain engaged in a positive way. Secondary traumatic stress, put simply, is the stress we are exposed to when we interact with other people’s stress, and it manifests at both an individual and societal level. When not managed effectively, it wears us down and diminishes our ability to contribute in a positive way.

About Our Guest: Laura van Dernoot Lipsky is the founder and director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute and author of Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others and The Age of Overwhelm. She is a widely recognized pioneer in the field of trauma exposure and has worked locally, nationally, and internationally for more than three decades. Laura is also the host of Future Tripping, a podcast about navigating overwhelm.

Key Topics:

  • 0:00: Introduction
  • 1:35: Laura’s personal experience
  • 4:10: How secondary trauma shows up for people
  • 6:45: Martyrdom and the responsibility of organizations to create sustainable environments
  • 10:30: Concern with how trauma is normalized within communities
  • 14:10: Internalized oppression and overwhelm in the broader culture
  • 17:40: The broader systemic context and the ineffectiveness of burning yourself out
  • 21:50: The necessity of taking breaks
  • 26:40: How to feel okay taking time to unplug from discourse on charged topics
  • 33:35: Differentiating between spheres of control and acknowledging grief
  • 37:45: Finding ways to stay hopeful
  • 40:35: What Laura is grateful for and stressed about
  • 44:35: Recap

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