Dealing with Vicarious and Secondary Trauma

Wellbeing at The Bar

The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) wholeheartedly supports the Wellbeing at the Bar project which aims to tackle the stigma that is attached to mental illness; to empower advocates to make healthy life choices and to consciously manage their practice.

It has become gradually more common for advocates to be exposed to emotionally and psychologically challenging environments on a daily basis, not least when dealing with sexual offence cases. A natural human reaction to these events is empathy which leads an individual to feel some of what the victims or defendants feel. Vicarious and Secondary trauma can develop from this natural response.

ICCA acknowledges unconditionally that the requirement to undertake a training course involving historical sexual abuse may only add to the burden of busy practitioners whose time is limited and precious. Moreover, the subject matter involves the abuse of vulnerable adults and a child.

In providing materials that require advocates to closely consider the questions for a number of vulnerable witnesses who claim to have been the victims of abuse, ICCA wants to make sure that any barrister undertaking this training course knows that there are resources available that can help to guard against vicarious trauma and that will help to identify symptoms and deal with safeguarding.

All participating advocates are encouraged to access the resources at Wellbeing at the Bar, to develop an awareness for the issues of vicarious and secondary trauma; to understand the risks and responsibilities for dealing with victims, witnesses and their own safeguards when working in this area.