The Houston-Galveston Trauma Institute

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Self-Care Assessment

It is very common for those who work with traumatized clients to become personally and detrimentally affected by the experience themselves, often without realizing that this is happening. The following assessment is designed to help health care professionals and caregivers recognize and deal with the signs of vicarious trauma.

Please rate the following statements in terms of frequency, using this as your guide:

5 = Frequently
4 = Occasionally
3 = Rarely
2 = Never
1 = It never occurred to me


___ Eat regularly – don’t skip meals
___ Eat healthily – lots fruits and vegetables
___ Exercise
___ Get regular medical care to prevent sickness
___ Get medical care when sick
___ Take time off when sick
___ Get enough sleep – and sleep well
___ Take time away from work
___ Take time away from telephones
___ Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing – engage in some physical activity that is fun
___ Take time to be alone with your special person or husband or wife
___ Wear clothes you like
___ Other


___ Make time and space for self-reflection
___ Journal writing
___ Read good books unrelated to work
___ Do things you are not expert or in charge of
___ Notice your inner experience: thoughts, feelings, attitudes
___ Share parts of yourself with others
___ Let others give and do for you
___ Teach yourself how to reduce stress
___ Engage your mind in a new area: art, history, sports, theater, exhibits, collections
___ Say no to more responsibilities
___ Initiate and stay in contact with people who are important to you
___ Allow yourself to cry
___ Allow yourself to laugh
___ Allow yourself to express outrage at social injustice: letters, donations, protests
___ Play with children
___ Identify and do things that comfort, relax and soothe you


___ Make quiet time for reflection
___ Spend time in nature
___ Find a spiritual community
___ Allow yourself to be inspired
___ Cherish optimism and hope
___ Intentionally work at letting go of being in charge
___ Be open to not knowing the answer
___ Identify what is most important and meaningful to you and its place in your life
___ Meditate
___ Pray
___ Sing
___ Contribute to causes that you believe in
___ Allow yourself to feel awe
___ Read things that inspire you
___ Other


___ Take a break during each workday
___ Break for lunch
___ Identify tasks that are most rewarding
___ Balance your workday so that no one day is too much
___ Take time to talk with your co-workers
___ Set limits with clients and colleagues
___ Make your workspace comfortable
___ Negotiate your needs (pay, benefits, space)
___ Have a peer support group
___ Develop a non-trauma area of interest
___ Get regular supervision or consultation
___ Other


___ Balance your day: work, self and others
___ Balance your life: work, self, family, friends, spirit, health

Make a personal commitment to oneself and one’s work

  • Because I hurt
  • Because I matter
  • Because my clients matter
  • Because the work I do matters
  • Because the profession matters
  • Because I must

  • Not alone; get a buddy or a group
  • One day at a time
  • Increase mindfulness and acceptance
  • Don’t forget and don’t give up

What gets in the way?
  • Not recognizing signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma and the need to do something different
  • Shame at the thought of needing help with my work, especially if seasoned practitioner
  • Making money
  • Spread too thin, overcommitted

From Transforming the Pain by Karen Saakvitne, PhD and Laurie Anne Pearlman, PhD