Managing exposure to trauma and fostering self-care in emotionally loaded research
A wide range of scholarship today addresses the exposure of healthcare professionals and social workers to vicarious trauma as the result of their intervention in emotionally demanding settings. However, relatively little focus has been given to scholars, social researchers and in particular oral historians to examine and respond to the potentially negative effects of archival sources or direct witnessing with the survivors of identity-based violence. The painful encounters with narratives and testimonies of disturbing and distressing human behaviors, practices, relationships, and experiences often have profound impacts on researchers but because of the legacy that is rooted in and justified through science’s legitimating mechanisms of ‘objectivity,’ ‘measurements’ and rationality, negative emotional impacts are rarely addressed in serious methodological debates. This leads to researchers being badly prepared, poorly informed and often unable to prevent and/or recognize the dangers of the transmission of collective traumas.
Using the concrete examples from her field research work on long-term trauma transmission, community resilience, and humanitarian aid action experiences with survivors of collective violence, the facilitator will provide a framework for understanding the impact of emotionally demanding research work in traumatized settings and with traumatic sources. Participants will learn about the essential features, dynamics and risks related to vicarious trauma and will be furthermore able to define vicarious trauma as opposed to other related concepts such as burnout, compassion and empathy fatigue, secondary trauma, indirect trauma, and secondary traumatic stress disorder. During the interactive part of the workshop participants will learn and discuss personal and institutional strategies to address the risk of the vicarious trauma with the reference to their work, and to prevent the long-term impacts. Five common self-care strategies will be introduced to participants to allow them to reflect on potential protective factors, both on the individual and institutional level, and to learn how to build resilience and a sustainable, healthy work ethic.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nena Močnik holds Ph.D. in Balkan Studies from the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) and a Diploma in Modern Applied Psychology with a counseling practitioner certificate from The Academy of Modern Applied Psychology (Scotland). After completing part of her Ph.D. study as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Southern California (USA), she won a postdoctoral fellowship at the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (Finland). At the moment she is an invited scholar at CY Cergy-Paris Université (France) and her main research area intersects questions of long-term trauma social recovery, peace education, and prevention of identity-based violence. In 2019, her project ‘Teaching Transmission of Trauma and Remembrance through Experiential Learning”, won the grant from European Commission – Europe for Citizen Programme. She has delivered workshops and training for researchers, conducting field research in traumatized contexts, and the field of social justice and violence prevention. She volunteers as a humanitarian aid worker in post-war zones and refugee settlements, at the moment in Calais, France.
Sexuality after War Rape: From Narrative to Embodied Research. Routledge, 2017.
War-related Sexual Violence and Trauma Transmission: Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Settings. Routledge, 2020.
Močnik, Nena, ed. The Cost of Bearing Witness: Secondary trauma and self-care in field-based social research. Social Epistemologies, 2020.
Močnik, Nena, ed. Lessons from Sexual Violence in Mass Atrocity Crimes: Toward Preventive Pedagogies in History Education. Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, 2021.
Močnik, Nena, ed. Engaging with Historical Traumas: Experiential Learning and Pedagogies of Resilience. Routledge, 2021.