What is Secondary Traumatic Stress?
Secondary Traumatic Stress is a naturally occurring and distressing by-product of working with clients who are suffering from traumatic stress. It is characterized by a cluster of reactions that mirror the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Secondary traumatic stress can be debilitating for workers who cannot escape indirect trauma exposure, and can lead to a host of poor organizational outcomes such as job turnover, absenteeism, and poor job satisfaction and performance.
How will the STS-ISC address Secondary Traumatic Stress?
The STS-ISC will provide workforce development and protection assistance to organizations who serve individuals affected by trauma. The goal of the STS-ISC is to address the impact of secondary traumatic stress on professionals so they can provide effective and quality care to those with traumatic stress conditions. This will be accomplished via the following activities:
- Implementing workforce development and protection studies and initiatives using data driven, organizational change processes to decrease the impact of secondary traumatic stress
- Investigate supervisors' abilities to serve as change agents and boundary spanners using the STS Core Competencies for Trauma Informed Supervision
- Developing trauma-informed, evidence-based interventions to address secondary traumatic stress
- Adapting evidence based tools and interventions to address secondary trauma and build resiliency in foster parents
- Investigating the effectiveness of these tools and interventions on reducing secondary traumatic stress at the organizational and individual levels
Included in these translational research activities are multidisciplinary, geographically diverse professionals from across the country. The project will also recruit professionals serving unaccompanied minors, and children separated at the border, as well as those from settings significantly impacted by COVID-19.
Here is how you can become involved:
If you are interested in having your organization participate in a systems transformation process to address secondary traumatic stress at your site as part of this grant, contact Dr. Ginny Sprang at