socw6333 discussion

Due 3/8/19

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings. Be sure to respond to a colleague who chose at least one different setting than you did. Respond in one or more of the following ways:

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  • Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting related to your role as a helping professional.
  • Offer and support an opinion.
  • Make a suggestion.
  • Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Response to Nicole Cunningham

Brief Explanation of Which Individual(s) Has Vicarious Trauma and Which Has Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and the Symptoms of the Individual(s)

Claude Boushey was a service member who had been injured in a serious helicopter crash (Laureate Education, 2014). He experienced self-blame and guilt for “failing” his mission (Laureate Education, 2014). He stated that he had some difficulty when he lost a friend in combat during his recovery period (Laureate Education, 2014). He expressed that he only wanted to get back to flying and return to a deployment (Laureate Education, 2014). Although his experience was stressful, he did not give enough information to determine if he was experiencing PTSD or vicarious trauma symptoms.

Steven Matos showed signs of PTSD which is defined as a specific set of characteristics and symptoms following an exposure to a traumatic event that the person was directly involved in (Morrissette, 2004). As part of the initial push into Bagdad, he was wounded within the first day and witnessed his fellow Marines be killed and wounded in combat as well (Laureate Education, 2014). While deployed, he experienced being in a mine field where he was injured, and others were killed and, as a result, he began smoking heavily and would not get out of his vehicle before checking the surrounding ground (Laureate Education, 2014). Upon return from deployment, he got divorced from his wife and “lost” his son due to the negative effects of the deployment (Laureate Education, 2014). He stated that he had issues sleeping, had a reactionary temper, and even ended up getting arrested due to his issues (Laureate Education, 2014). PTSD includes symptoms of emotional numbing, irritability, sleeping problems, nightmares, exaggerated startle response, and anger outbursts, all of which he was experiencing (Laureate Education, 2014; Morrissette, 2004).

Richard Malmstrom, who operated as a Chaplin to a Marine unit in Iraq, showed signs of vicarious trauma (Laureate Education, 2014). He was responsible for assisting with the dead and wounded Marines who had been in combat as well as offering comfort to those who lost others (Laureate Education, 2014). One of the biggest risk factors faced by Malmstrom for development of vicarious trauma was the large amount of dead, wounded, and traumatized Marines that he was working with as research has shown that the higher the “caseload” of these clients, the higher the risk of developing vicarious trauma (Hensel, Ruiz, Finney, & Dewa, 2015). He stated that the work was often overwhelming and that it caused him to be in a “funk” (Laureate Education, 2014). He remarked how some of the images of the dead and wounded had been “imprinted” on his brain and caused him to have intrusive memories and flashbacks (Laureate Education, 2014). He stated that when he returned from deployment, he had trouble concentrating, difficulties in remembering simple words, dissociative amnesia, was short tempered, had strong reactions to fireworks, and emotional numbing with difficulties expressing empathy (Laureate Education, 2014). Since he did not experience the trauma of combat personally but was deeply involved with the aftermath and dealing with those who had, this would be considered vicarious trauma (secondary trauma) versus PTSD (Morrissette, 2004).

Applying to Future Role as a Helping Professional

Some of the things that each person mentioned during their narratives that could be useful as a helping professional include informing the client of the necessity for a strong support system, having encouraging and positive people in their life, keeping a sense that they are not alone, and asking for help if they need to (Laureate Education, 2014). Both formal and informal groups were recommended and having the ability to talk to someone who has “been there” is important as well (Laureate Education, 2014). These recommendations are consistent with best practices when it comes to treatment of those with both vicarious trauma and/or PTSD (Morrissette, 2004).

Specifically, those with vicarious trauma would also benefit from other interventions such as regular debriefings of experiences, group supports, normalization of symptoms, stress management techniques, health education, mental health days, and a fulfilling personal life with a balanced workload (Morrissette, 2004).

For those with PTSD, additionally interventions can include therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), and Constructive Self-Development Theory (CSDT) (Morrissette, 2004). On a side note, there are now a lot of alternative methods of therapy for PTSD that are in the works. One specifically that has shown a lot of promise is the use of MDMA (Ecstasy) and therapy combined. A friend of mine, Dr. Jim Hopper, and his colleagues are working on the second phase of the FDA trials to get this type of treatment out to those in need. I have included a link if anyone is interested.


Hensel, J. M., Ruiz, C., Finney, C., & Dewa, C. S. (2015). Meta?analysis of risk factors for secondary traumatic stress in therapeutic work with trauma victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 28(2), 83-91.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014). Vicarious trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in military personnel [Video file]. Retrieved from

Morrissette, P. J. (2004). The pain of helping: Psychological injury of helping professionals. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Response to Liam

Claude Boushey is a retired military pilot who may have suffered symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder following a helicopter crash that left him severely injured to the point where he was told he may never walk again (Laureate Education, 2014). Throughout his recovery process, which included six surgeries for his leg alone, the rebuilding of his spine, and extensive physical rehabilitation, Claude experienced symptoms of depression, such as sitting in a dark room and wondering why he was hurt and not someone else, and excessive feelings of guilt over things like the helicopter being destroyed, the military being down a pilot, and “failing” his mission. Although Claude does not give many details regarding his experience and symptoms, he does state that his emotional state had a negative impact on his family and that his mood was inconsistent.

Steven Matos is a service member who suffered from symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder after an injury on his first say of deployment (Laureate Education, 2014). This injury occurred after his platoon discovered they were standing on a field of hidden mines which began to detonate. Following this incident, Steven would not get out of a vehicle without checking the ground, started smoking heavily, and became hypervigilant of his surrounding environment in order to “make sure everything was okay”. Upon returning from his tour, Steven attempted to avoid his symptoms by keeping busy, but was plagued by difficulty sleeping, excessive emotionality, particularly when it came to anger, and a short fuse; a combination which culminated with his arrest.

Richard Malmstrom is a Marine Chaplain who experienced symptoms of vicarious trauma following his years of service and exposure to traumatic deaths. Richard described several instances of trauma that stuck out to him, including placing mutilated corpses in body bags, then sitting with, informing, and comforting the close friends and in at least one case, family members of the deceased (Laureate Education, 2014). He also described instances where he found out that close friends he had made had been killed in combat and he would have to wait for their bodies to be found and retrieved, then he would need to have them sent back to their families. Throughout all of this, he also needed to be told, in graphic detail, what had happened to injured soldiers close to death and what life-saving measures had been taken in the field so that he could assist in tending to them before they died. Richard experienced a period of emotional numbness that lasted for years, where he was unable to empathize with the losses of others and was more cynical because these losses were far fewer than those experienced by the marines he comforted during his service. He experienced intrusive thoughts and images of things he had been told happened on the battlefield, had difficulty concentrating and remembering things, a short temper, and hypervigilance towards loud noises and other triggers that reminded him of stories of combat.

             In working with individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder and vicarious trauma, I would utilize groups to help individuals connect with others who have experienced the same things they have (Laureate Education, 2014) and may provide relationships with commonalities that help to reduce traumatic symptoms (Morrissette, 2004). I would also reassure them that the symptoms they are experiencing are not a sign of weakness, as they may believe, and tailor my approach to their treatment based on what is most effective or needed by them, as an individual (Laureate Education, 2014).


Laureate Education (Producer). (2014d). Vicarious trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in military personnel [Video file]. Retrieved from

Morrissette, P. J. (2004). The pain of helping: Psychological injury of helping professionals. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

My References


Laureate Education (Producer). (2014d). Vicarious trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in military personnel [Video file]. Retrieved from

Morrissette, P. J. (2004). The pain of helping: Psychological injury of helping professionals. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.