Hundreds of lawyers in Scotland have received counselling because of the distressing nature of the cases they work on.
Crown Office prosecutors, including those whose caseload includes murders, rapes and serious violent crimes, and specialist caseworkers, whose role may involve interviewing victims of sexual abuse and examining photographs, have received treatment, according to The Times.
They were given ‘vicarious trauma counselling’ because of the second-hand trauma they had received while working on court cases or investigations.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service spent about £40,000 on trauma counselling for nearly 500 staff in the past two years, a freedom of information request revealed.
Justin Havens, a BACP member who specialises in trauma, said:
“We do need to be aware that people can experience trauma from things like looking at distressing sexual abuse images as part of their jobs.
“Sometimes these things are a bit ‘sticky’. These images or first-hand testimonies from victims can be very invasive in someone’s mind. The question is whether that person can recover from that over a few days, or weeks, and if not, they definitely need some help.
“It’s not going to be everybody who needs this. But some people will reach tipping point. That next case might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“What they see must be very distressing. It will stay with them and they will need some help to talk about it, and then close it down.
“The outcomes are good. The big thing is that this sort of trauma is treatable.”
To find a BACP counsellor or therapist to talk about trauma, see our Therapist directory.
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