Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 29

FEATURE
said that "a strong feeling of helplessness is common among professionals who advocate for immigrants. Compassion fatigue is very real.
In talking personally with providers, it is clear that they feel helpless
advocating for folks and knowing the unpredictability that they face.
Seeing ever-more-restrictive national policies and an oppressive political
climate for immigrants exacerbates the sense of helplessness."

DISTRESS SIGNALS

You or a coworker may be
suffering from vicarious
traumatization or secondary
trauma stress if you're
experiencing many of the
following symptoms:
COGNITIVE
Lowered concentration
Apathy
Rigid thinking
Perfectionism
Preoccupation with trauma

BEHAVIORAL
Withdrawal
Sleep disturbance
Appetite change
Hypervigilance
Elevated startle response

EMOTIONAL
Guilt
Anger
Numbness
Sadness
Helplessness

PHYSICAL
Increased heart rate
Difficulty breathing
Muscle and joint pain
Impaired immune system
Increased severity
of medical concerns

Legal Aid has no formal wellness program, but it has incorporated mindfulness activities to improve staff well-being. "In the last six months or
so, we started 10 minutes of mindfulness. And two days a week, different
people will lead breaks in our conference room so that others can
meditate and try to take a break from the stresses of the day. That's something we are doing on our own without any external resources," says
Angel. "We have weekly retreats where the staff get together on Friday
mornings to have snacks and talk about things."

ADDRESSING STS & VT
Helping overworked attorneys stay mentally healthy is one thing, but
treating those with STS and VT requires more effort. Tiller has heard more
conversations about secondary trauma in both her private practice and
at Georgetown Law.
"It got brought to my attention more and more at the law school in
dealing with students who are working in the asylum clinic or the street
law clinic. So we've tried to be a little bit more active in the clinics as a
counseling program," Tiller says. "I've seen more professors talking about
it in their classes. Also, within the larger law school community, there are
more people talking about it."
In October 2019, the American Psychological Association (APA) published
Rebecca Raney's article "Compassion Fatigue: A Side Effect of the
Immigration Crisis." In the article, Gabriela Livas Stein, a psychologist
and associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro,

Despite increased awareness of secondary trauma, the burgeoning
research about the nature and effects of STS and VT has produced
"no consensus definitions" of them, according to the 2019 APA report
"Defining Secondary Traumatic Stress and Developing Targeted
Assessments and Interventions." The report also notes that "there has
not been a systematic program of research and development for STS
preventive and ameliorative interviews. Currently STS interventions
tend to focus on generic wellness, health promotion, workplace safety,
worker morale, and self-care rather than addressing the specific effects
of indirect exposure to others' traumatic events or traumatic stress
reactions."
Kim Daulton, director of social work at the Children's Law Center, a
District-based nonprofit serving at-risk youth struggling with hunger
and homelessness, says the organization has taken upon itself to learn
more about the impact of STS and VT on its team.
"As a result of that, we host trainings to educate the staff. Many of our
supervisions include conversations about what kinds of things in the
casework are impacting our staff and how we can support them in
processing and addressing those. We know that lack of time to process
work-related experiences is one risk factor. So, I think it's a pretty regular
conversation," she explains.
"We have access to health care and mental health professionals should
that be needed," Daulton adds. "We also have a flexible work schedule
so people can take what time they need to address their physical and
mental health. And we have the EAP [employment assistance program],
which I think can be helpful if you're someone who is new and trying
to figure out how to address what you think could be a mental health
issue. It could be a substance abuse issue. We also make sure that staff
are aware of other resources available to them, whether it's reading
material, a video, or even what the D.C. Bar has to offer with the Lawyer
Assistance Program."
Even though Daulton emphasizes organizations' role in promoting a culture
of wellness, she contends that it's also the responsibility of the individual
to get help with STS and VT. "The path to addressing the symptoms of
trauma-related stress is quite individualized. It's really going to depend
upon who that person is," she says. "The thing about being aware of
trauma-related stress and addressing it is that it must be seen as a practice,
both in preventing it and then resolving it when and if it occurs."

GOING IT ALONE
In coping with stress, public interest lawyers have an even tougher time.
Not only do they often contend with limited financial resources, but they
also have to deal with isolation.
Coury Mascagni, a public interest lawyer and executive director of
Lawyers for the People, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the legal rights
of children with disabilities, works mostly alone. In September 2019, he
attended the two-day Neglect and Delinquency Practice Institute

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER 29



Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
The Opioid Litigation Wars
The Art Of Wellness: Law Firms Get Creative
Combating Secondary Trauma
Debating The Path Forward On Health Care Reform
Taking The Stand
On Further Review
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking Of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Special Section: Counting Down To The 2020 Conference
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 5
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - The Opioid Litigation Wars
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - The Art Of Wellness: Law Firms Get Creative
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Combating Secondary Trauma
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Debating The Path Forward On Health Care Reform
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Taking The Stand
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 46
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Speaking Of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Special Section: Counting Down To The 2020 Conference
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 54
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2020 - Cover4
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