Shared Trauma: When the Professional is Personal

Carol Tosone, Orit Nuttman-Shwartz, Tricia Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concepts describing secondary trauma phenomena do not adequately capture the profound impact that collective catastrophic events can have on mental health professionals living and working in traumatogenic environments. Shared trauma, by contrast, contains aspects of primary and secondary trauma, and more accurately describes the extraordinary experiences of clinicians exposed to the same community trauma as their clients. Case vignettes from clinicians in Manhattan and Sderot, Israel are provided to illustrate the transformative changes that clinicians may undergo as a result of dual exposure to trauma. Discussion involves the importance of articulating one's own trauma narrative and attending to self-care prior to resuming clinical work, as well as opportunities for enhanced therapeutic intimacy and caution regarding boundary alterations that may result from clinician self-disclosure. Agency settings can provide the necessary education, supervision, and support to mitigate the negative effects of shared trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Collective trauma
  • Community trauma
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Secondary trauma
  • Shared trauma
  • Shared traumatic reality
  • Vicarious trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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