How to Cope with Vicarious Trauma

-Brittany Harp, MA LPC


This past weekend, violence once again took the lives of innocent people in our country. You may be struggling to make sense of these terrible tragedies. It is hard not to feel personally affected by something so devastating, regardless of your own proximity to the event.

Although people are resilient, these events can shake our sense of order and safety. The impact of these events can cause a variety of emotions. Feelings might include shock, sorrow, numbness, despair, anger, fear, grief, disillusionment, among others.

If you are feeling any of these emotions or just struggling to make sense of the violence, I encourage you to utilize these tips:

Prioritize self-care.

While this may seem counter-intuitive to focus on your self in times of crisis, you can not provide any kind of help to others if you are not feeling stable. Pay attention to your needs.

Maintain Your Routine.

When tragic, senseless events occur, they shake our sense of control in our lives and the world around us. The c;loser we can stick to our typical routine, the more we feel like we have some control in the world.

Talk about it.

Reach out for support from people who care about you and will listen to you. The more we talk about our feelings surrounding the tragedy, the better we are able to cope with the overwhelming emotions.

Take a break from social media/the news.

We live in an age of 24-hour information. While this helps us stay informed, it can be debilitating to our mental health. The constant exposure can increase our feelings of distress and anxiety. It is vital to step away from the news and focus on something that brings you joy.

Look for the helpers.

In every tragedy, there are always signs of good. There are always more people helping and doing good things than the ones doing harm.

Be a helper.

If you are feeling powerless, find ways that you can contribute to change in the world. Donate blood. Call your congressman/senator. Reach out to those in the community that might be isolated/ different/ struggling. Be kind to one another.


If you're struggling to process the trauma from violence, seek help. Sharp Wellness can help you process the trauma and find healing in the uncontrollable.

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