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Vicarious resilience: a new concept in work with those who survive trauma

Pilar Hernández, David Gangsei, David Engstrom, 2007

This study explores the formulation of a new concept: vicarious resilience. It addresses the question of how psychotherapists who work with survivors of political violence or kidnapping are affected by their clients’stories of resilience. It focuses on the psychotherapists’ interpretations of their clients’ stories, and how they make sense of the impact that these stories have had on their lives. In semistructured interviews, 12 psychotherapists who work with victims of political violence and kidnapping were interviewed about their perceptions of their clients’ overcoming of adversity. A phenomenological analysis of the transcripts was used to describe the themes that speak about the effects of witnessing how clients cope constructively with adversity. These themes are discussed to advance the concept of vicarious resilience and how it can contribute to sustaining and empowering trauma therapists.

Updated December 13, 2021.