In 1990 Lisa McCann and Laurie Anne Pearlman published an article in which they first coined and defined the term and condition known as vicarious trauma to describe a “new theoretical context for understanding this complex phenomenon,” where helpers begin to display a constellation of symptoms comparable to their traumatized clients’ set of symptoms. Prior to McCann and Pearlman’s article, a handful of research and subjective observations focused on therapist reactions to traumatized clients but failed to understand gradual buildup of effect. In the years to follow, the literature and research in the field expanded to include other helping professions. In Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization, Karen W Saakvitne and Laurie Anne Pearlman list criminal defence lawyers as being at risk for vicarious traumatization. Since then, lawyers working in the areas of civil law, child protection, family law, and refugee and immigration law have been identified as susceptible. There appears to be an emerging trend in the field of law which is starting to address the role of vicarious trauma.”

Download “Teaching Law Students: Lessening the Potential Effects of Vicarious Trauma” which was published in the Manitoba Law Journal Online.

By Lynne Jenkins, Director of Counselling Services at BSCC