Dealing with trauma

Jackie Cameron writes about the trauma suffered by journalists reporting war in the Sunday Herald today. Cameron is a former journalist who retrained as an occupational psychologist when she decided to look into the effect of trauma on frontline journalists,

As Dr Jo Rick, a leading trauma researcher based at the IWP, explains, war is only a small part of the picture. “The greater the level of exposure, the greater the risk of experiencing trauma symptoms,” she says. “However, it’s difficult to predict who is likely to be harmed. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back’ syndrome, where even a hardened correspondent can suddenly be pushed to breaking point.
“Equally, it’s very difficult to say what particular situations are traumatic, because we know that most people will recover spontaneously but that in some cases symptoms will persist. Routine domestic assignments, such as covering road traffic accidents and house fires, can lead to trauma as well as some of the more extreme stressors like war and terrorism.” link

The article goes on to say that some major news organisations like the BBC and Reuters incorporate trauma awareness training into staff development programmes. Although these are the exception not the rule.