person sitting at end of dock

Secondary Trauma

Last week I had the opportunity to take part in the Secondary Trauma Resiliency Training (STRT) conducted by Jessica Kroeker and Jonathan Davis from Project Harmony. While I was skeptical at first of committing three full days to a training and being out of the office two weeks before our anniversary event, I can’t emphasize enough how valuable this training was. So often we talk about secondary or vicarious trauma in this field, how to practice self-care and make sure we are prioritizing ourselves, but very rarely do we take the time for dedicated efforts to this. Or at least I don’t! Which I know . . . that is terrible. There is a saying, “Practice what you preach!” I need to do better with this most certainly.

Jessica and Jonathan had gone through a STRT Train the Trainer certification and did such an incredible job with the training. While the majority of the training is scripted, they did a tremendous job of engaging the participants, training with a calm, soothing manner, and creating a safe space for participants to share some very personal items. There aren’t many trainings (especially three-day trainings!) that I walk away feeling invigorated, re-energized, AND emotionally exhausted all at the same time!

One of my favorite things about the training was that there was a small, intimate group of us participating. While we were all from the health and human services field, we all came to the table at very different points in our career and from very different positions. I didn’t know many of these ladies before the training, but I walked away feeling inspired by all of them – even those in the infancy of their careers. The energy and passion they carried was a wonderful reminder of a point we have all been at in our careers, and one we should try and hold on to as much as possible. I believe this training was really so valuable because of the participants who shared in this experience. A huge thank you to all of you out there – you know who you are!

Another meaningful moment was when we were asked to create a career and life timeline. While the focus started on our career, it didn’t take most of us long to realize that there have been events in our lives that drove our passion and commitment to helping others. I always knew that was the case for me, but not until I took the time to intentionally think through the last nearly 20 years of my “adult life” did I realize the incredible impact that the early years of my life and many personal circumstances had in shaping my career path. This was very moving to see, and definitely an “a-ha!” moment for me!

In working in the mental health and suicide field for the last decade there have been many trying, emotional moments. There have been lives lost, lives saved, partnerships created, colleagues who have mentored me and are now no longer in their roles, changes in the landscape, memories created with teammates, countless hours dedicated to others, and milestones reached. I know many of those things resonate with so many of you in this field, and on top of it all, we have our personal lives too. Last week’s training made me remember that it takes a special person to do what we all do, but we each have to make sure to take the time to take care of ourselves (and not just say we are going to!) in order to continue serving those in our community who are most in need. Please join me in making a committed effort to do just that as we move forward in our careers – no matter what stage of your career you are at. Thank you Jessica, Jonathan, and all the participants for reminding me of that!

Julia Hebenstreit, The Kim Foundation

Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation

Julia Hebenstreit is the Executive Director of The Kim Foundation. She received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation since 2011, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves on the Executive Committee for Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, as the 2015 Hill Day State Captain for the state of Nebraska, and as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, BHECN Advisory Committee, RESPECT Advisory Board, Connections Advisory Board and the Project Propel Planning Group.