Missoula County Attorney Receives Award For Treatment Of ‘Secondary Trauma’
Violent crimes take their toll on victims, but also on the prosecutors and law enforcement personnel that bring charges against the perpetrators day after day.
Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst has been recognized by the National Association of Counties with a 100 Brilliant Ideas at Work award for treatment of 'secondary trauma'.
The program’s facilitator, Andrew Laue, is a clinical social worker who teaches the fundamentals of working with victims who have experienced trauma and also the devastating effects of long term exposure to secondary trauma stress to those professionals working closely with victims.
"The providers for those folks, like the prosecutors in our office, after accumulating that trauma over a period of time, it has a negative impact on their work life, and on their personal life," Pabst said. "Prosecutors have pretty high rates of suicide and turnover. They're learning about trauma, they're learning about how trauma affects not only victims and their recall but prosecutors have found documentably negative cumulative effects."
One of the aspects of the secondary trauma program is receiving counseling for the effects of their experiences.
"We started working with jurors and law enforcement," she said. "Having traumatic incident debriefing with a trauma informed counselor. For example, during the Gomez trial, who had to listen to that horrible testimony. We learned that it was really bothering some of them. In fact our jury foreperson almost dropped out because he was having a hard time sleeping."
Pabst said the National Association of Counties will be presenting the award in Columbus, Ohio in July, but she has a scheduling conflict and cannot attend the event.