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Saakvitne, K.W. (2002). Shared Trauma: The Therapist's Increased Vulnerability. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(3):443-449.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(3):443-449

Shared Trauma: The Therapist's Increased Vulnerability

Karen W. Saakvitne, Ph.D.

When both therapist and client share a traumatic event, there are multiple levels of vulnerability to traumatization for the therapist. Our personal vulnerability is not only a backdrop for our clinical work but also an acknowledged fact in many therapcutic relationships, a situation that changes the frame of the work. In addition to clinical challenges, shared trauma increases a therapist's vulnerability to vicarious traumatization; VT is defined as the negative transformation of the therapist's inner experience as a result of his or her empathic engagement with and responsibility for a traumatized client. Emphasizing the importance of awareness, self-care, meaning, and community, the article summarizes important steps to anticipate, address, and transform the therapist's experience of vicarious traumatization.

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