I have now led the Secondary Trauma Resiliency Training more than 100 times. Many special people have contributed to the development of this training and I want to extend my grateful acknowledgement.
The Secondary Trauma Resiliency Training emerged from an earlier training program created in 1999, the Vicarious Trauma Training. Three remarkable consultants helped in the development of that training, Charles Figley, Pat Ogden, and Richard Knoblauch. Each offered key support and significant insights. The idea for Unit 9, “Tolerating My Great Worth” was Charles’; he employs a very techno-mondo version of a Retirement Party exercise and graciously offered the core of the idea for this training’s use. Pat suggested the possibility of participants sharing their secondary trauma stress reactions silently rather than verbally. Years later, she mentioned she had first picked up the idea from Saakvitne and Pearlman. At the time, I had not read their book and so through the development of the training, I thought it was her intriguing idea. I initially imagined that the silent sharing in Unit 2 would be easier than a spoken sharing. Training after training, participants tell me I am wrong to think that. But the power of the exercise continually convinces me that it is worth the challenge. Richard’s evaluation ideas, like all of his applied research tools, were clever, yet straightforward and sound. The Vicarious Trauma Training was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime. Without their support, I never could have gathered together such talented people to work on that training or been able to concentrate for a year on that effort.
Lisa Bernal was the Secondary Trauma Resiliency Training’s first training coordinator and she has remained a wonderful supporter of the training. The clean, sharp appearance of the Workbook reflects just one of her many contributions. She now serves as the organization’s Director of Development. Ray Betts has been the bookkeeper who has not just kept order but has also been a huge supporter of this work.
In terms of my ability to craft this training, I really feel blessed to have had two very wise teachers. One was Ram Dass, and I was his student in just the way that thousands of others have been through attending his lectures and trainings. Once, though, I had the chance to tell him about the Secondary Trauma Resiliency Training and to thank him for the parts he inspired. He marvelously replied, “You and I, Tobey, are very lucky to get to do the work we do – my working with the dying and your working with those who treat the traumatized.” I have never felt so honored as by his inclusion. My other great teacher was Rudy Bauer. Attending his Gestalt Psychotherapy Institute of Washington, DC training program was the most important gift I ever received as a therapist. Ram Dass’ and Rudy’s teachings provided an essential foundation to the training. I don’t know the origin of the expression, but I believe the truth of it: ‘If I appear tall, it is because I have been able to stand on the shoulders of giants’.
And, of course, to all who have participated in the Secondary Trauma Resiliency Training: Over and over, I have witnessed what brave, dedicated, resilient people you are. Through this witnessing, I know Ram Dass is right: I am very lucky to get to do what I do. Your clients and patients, your organizations are blessed to have your vital hearts.
History and Acknowledgments