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Shared Trauma, Vicarious Trauma, Secondary Trauma, Compassion Fatigue and Burnout: Identification, Feeling and Healing What to Do When Trauma Strikes Your Practice and Your Community (6CE)

Presented by Douglas S. Faust, Ph.D. & Melinda S. Warner, Ed.D., ABPdN

Friday, December 7th, 2012 from 9:00am to 4:30pm
Holiday Inn Hotel & Conference Center in Dedham, MA

$100 for MPA Members, $175 for Non Members, $50 for Student/Life Members Registration fee includes Breakfast & Lunch!



Shared trauma occurs when a mental health professional personally experiences a traumatic event in the community in which they also provide professional services.  Examples include natural disasters, nuclear events, and conditions which place the professional at extended personal risk (e.g., active duty military, or in areas of historically sustained terrorist risk such as Israel, Ireland, and other countries in which civil wars have become a way of life). They also include less extreme examples, such as those experienced more recently in New England in the form of the Rhode Island nightclub fire, the loss of Malden Mills (Lawrence, MA), multiple school systems receiving envelopes filled with mysterious “white powder” and/or being placed in “lock-down” conditions for one reason or another, and shootings or alleged gunmen on school grounds. For psychologists living in these communities, particularly those who are parents of children attending those schools, these are hardly less traumatic than the earthquakes, tsunamis, or out-of-control brushfires experienced in other parts of the U.S.

Implications for self-care and professional practice will be discussed. These kinds of catastrophic events change psychologists’ relationships with their patients, their communities, and their inner and outer selves. They can become personal, spiritual and professional crises: It is the presenters’ experience and observation from data collected that the discussion of any given psychologist’s distress or ability to cope with this kind issue is seldom tolerated within the cultural climate of psychologists in their workplaces. Discussion of how, why and if this “intolerance of distress” should continue will be pursued, if time allows.

The morning portion of the program will define various effects on clinicians of working with a population of patients who may have experienced a collective trauma. The afternoon session will introduce the concepts of “shared trauma” and “second responders.”


Dr. Faust is currently working in Psychology and Neuropsychology at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, MN.  Prior to that he lived in New Orleans, LA, where he was Chair of the Department of Psychology at the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, LA for 18 years. In that role, he established community practice consultations and contributed to the formation of a premier rapid outpatient treatment program after Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Faust worked on the clinical faculty at the Louisiana State University Medical Center (Psychiatry & Pediatrics), Tulane University (Psychiatry & Neurology), and Southeastern Louisiana University (visiting faculty) in addition to his clinical, training and administrative duties at Children’s of New Orleans.  Dr. Faust has published broadly in nationally refereed journals and presented extensively at state, regional and national meetings.  His most recent publications  (one of which was co-written with Dr. Warner and others), on the impact of Hurricane Katrina on clinicians living along the Gulf Coast, has become one of the most frequently cited pieces on shared trauma in the current literature. He has reviewed articles for multiple journals, including Dr. Charles Figley’s Traumatology; and has presented on the effects of shared trauma to groups of medical and mental health professionals, including psychologists, nurses involved in treating victims of sexual assault, medical residents and physicians. Dr. Faust was the first pediatric mental health clinician to return to Children’s Hospital after Hurricane Katrina. While this particular storm was neither his first nor his last brush with natural disasters, it remains the one that has had the most significant effect on him; as well as the storm that has caused him to think most clearly and in the most concentrated way about how we, as psychologists, are effected by what happens around us, and how our early training and experiences combine to shape the Culture of Psychology as a profession in particular ways.

Dr. Warner has published and presented nationally and internationally on issues related to multi-cultural evaluation and assessment. She has published and presented nationally and locally on the issues of the sexual abuse of children and on the effects of national disasters on the professionals who live and work in such areas of shared trauma. She regularly presents to groups of both parents and professionals of various disciplines on what Neuropsychologists and Psychologists “are all about,” the use of neuropsychological testing and what parents/referring professional can expect from a good neuropsychological evaluation, the process of psychological diagnosis, and various topics related to the effects of medical and or neuropsychological disorders that are most typically identified at birth or in the infant/toddler stages. While she has been licensed and practiced in both NH and MA in the past, she currently maintains a private practice only in MA, preferring to reduce the number of hours she spends in her car and maximize the hours she can spend in direct patient care and support of colleagues.

Dr. Warner earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology at Boston University. Her Master’s degree is in Counselor Training from the University of Massachusetts at Boston; and she attended Bates College, in Lewiston, ME to complete her Bachelor’s degree in psychology. Dr. Warner began her undergraduate program at the age of 16, having been recruited by The New School for Social Research (NYC, NY), and shortly after finishing her sophomore year of college. As Mr. Jay Leno noted on one of his early Tonight Show programs, she is, therefore, technically a high school drop-out.

The Massachusetts Psychological Association is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  MPA maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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