Counseling & Wellness Services (CWS)

Coping with Secondary/Vicarious Trauma

Health professionals have long understood the impact of indirect exposure to traumatic events. With the increase in media coverage of traumatic events, the general population is also learning about the impact of vicarious/secondary traumatization. If you find that you are becoming upset after viewing/hearing about/or reading about a traumatic event (e.g., war, terrorism, etc.), you may want to review the information on this page.

Common Reactions to Trauma


  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Horror
  • Helplessness
  • Anger
  • Emotional numbness
  • Mood swings
  • Grief
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety


  • Recurrent, upsetting thoughts
  • Ruminative thoughts about traumatic event
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness     


  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of energy
  • Withdrawing socially
  • Increased use of alcohol/drugs
  • Restlessness, agitation, and/or difficulty relaxing
  • GI distress, nausea, and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness, rapid heartbeat, trembling, muscle tension, and or increased startle response
  • Difficulty meeting school/work/social responsibilities       

Coping Strategies:

  • Spend time with other people
  • Limit exposure to media coverage of event(s)
  • Talk about your feelings
  • Listen to others talking about their feelings
  • Take time for yourself to feel
  • Use your support system
  • Accept your feelings as normal reactions to trauma
  • Use strategies that you have used in the past that have positively helped you cope with stress
  • Avoid additional stress
  • Work to follow the usual routine
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthily
  • Get enough sleep
  • Engage in typical leisure activities
  • Seek counseling/consultation (Counseling and Wellness Services 937-775-3407)

Remember it is important that you take care of yourself. If we can be of assistance, please feel free to call for consultation or support 937-775-3407.