Another more recent study by clinical psychologist Monnica Williams, suggests that "graphic videos (which she calls vicarious trauma) combined with lived experiences of racism, can create severe psychological problems reminiscent of post-traumatic stress syndrome." (source)
In addition, news can be repeatedly shared across multiple outlets. Especially in the case of traumatic events, like police brutality, political turmoil, global disasters, and mass shootings, individuals can be exposed and re-exposed to traumatic events. As research suggests, individuals can begin to exhibit clinical symptoms and meet the diagnosis for PTSD. In the midst of vicarious exposure, what steps can congregational care ministers take to care for vicarious exposure?
Here are four practices of care that can address vicarious exposure:
- Create space for personal counseling and mentoring where individuals can share their feelings and begin to process and make sense of what is going on.
- Create a discussion groups to help people share their emotions in an empathetic and supportive environment.
- Encourage people in your care to reduce or limit the amount of time they spend watching news or participating in social media.
- Encourage people in your care to disengage from arguments and venting on social media.
- Martin et al. (2013) suggests that online venting increases measures of trait anger. Therefore, the more people vent online, the angrier they become
For more ideas on congregational care practices, visit the ICTG Resources section.
Ahern, J., Galea, S., Resnick, H., Kilpatrick, D., Bucuvalas, M., Gold, J., et al. (2002). Television images and psychological symptoms after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Psychiatry, 65, 289-300.
Bernstein, K., Ahern, J., Tracy, M., Boscarino, J.A., Blahov, D., & Galea, S. (2007). Television watching and the risk of incident probably posttraumatic stress disorder: A prospective evaluation. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 195, 41-47.
Martin, R. C., Coyier, K. R., VanSistine, L. M. & Schroeder, K. L. (2013). Anger on the internet: The perceived value of rant-sites”, CyberPsychology, 16, 119–122.
Schelenger, W.E., Caddell, J.M., Ebert, L., Jordan, B.K., Rourke, K. M., Wilson, D., et al. (2002). Psychological reactions to terrorist attacks: Findings from the national study of Americans’ reactions to September 11. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 581-587.
Read all of Joe's blogs here.