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Neurophysiology of Secondary Trauma: A Victim Research-to-Practice Fellowship Project

NCJ Number
Kelly E. Knight; Colter Ellis
Date Published
November 2018
7 pages
This report describes a researcher-practitioner project with the goal of developing, implementing, and evaluating a 2-day training course on topics related to the neurophysiology of secondary trauma (NST) that could be administered to victim-service providers affiliated with the partner organizations.
This project stemmed from the recognition that urgent attention is needed to address the effects of secondary trauma (ST) on victim-service providers, particularly those working in rural and remote areas. The project defines ST as "a form of trauma that results from repeated, empathetic engagement with populations who have experienced primary trauma." The purpose and need for this project was established in an earlier phase of related research that involved a statewide community needs assessment in rural non-tribal and tribal Montana. Over the past 3 years the researcher-practitioner team has held monthly meetings with a community advisory board (CAB) to develop an intervention response to ST. In spring 2018, the team authored a small book that consisted of nine vetted "tools" that victim-service providers and their organizations can use to understand, recognize, and address the symptoms of ST. In June 2018, the team used a train-the-trainer model to host a conference and retreat in which local victim-service leaders received training in the nine tools. The researchers on the team continued to convene monthly CAB meetings at Montana State University with their practitioner partners. Using partner-informed feedback, one of the researchers was responsible for developing, and will be teaching the NST course. The CAB practitioners reviewed and provided feedback on project materials, served as gatekeepers to victim-service providers working within their respective organizations, and assisted with survey development and logistics. In future months, they will facilitate their organizations' participation in the NST course.