It is well established that survivors of trauma bring to the treatment setting an emotional intensity and level of distress that touch, surpass and transform the empathic sensitivity of clinicians who listen to their stories. Empathic strain experienced by clinicians poses a potential threat to treatment outcome by truncating and distorting understanding of clients' intrapsychic dynamics.
It is widely agreed in the field of traumatology that empirical inquiries into the nature and extent of the impact of trauma work upon mental health professionals, as well as identification, understanding and successful management of reactive styles is vitally needed. Yet, with respect specifically to posttraumatic therapy, few empirical studies exist concerning the prevalence, nature and dynamics of the mental health professional's countertransference and empathic stress reactions caused by exposure to traumatized clients and to the content of traumatic case material by virtue of the professional relationship.
Empathy in the Treatment of Trauma and PTSD examines how professionals are psychologically impacted by their work with trauma clients. A national research study provides empirical evidence, documenting the struggle for professionals to maintain therapeutic equilibrium and empathic attunement with their trauma clients. Among the many important findings of this study, all participants reported being emotionally and psychologically affected by the work, often quite profoundly leading to changes in worldview, beliefs about the nature of humankind and the meaning of life.
John P. Wilson and Rhiannon Thomas set out to understand how to heal those who experience empathic strain in the course of their professional specialization. The data included in the book allows for the development of conceptual dynamic models of effective management of empathic strain, which may cause vicarious traumatization, burnout and serious countertransference processes.
--- from the publisher