The Law Is Not as Blind as It Seems: Relative Rates of Vicarious Trauma among Lawyers and Mental Health Professionals
Professionals who are exposed to trauma through work may indirectly experience distress and traumatisation of their own, often referred to as vicarious traumatisation (VT). Little research has been directed toward the experience of VT among lawyers, especially in terms of how it compares with the VT experienced by mental health professionals (MHPs). This study compares the extent to which exposure to traumatic information affects professionals of different disciplinary backgrounds. Additionally, personality traits that might theoretically influence an individual's vulnerability or resilience to VT are evaluated. Self-report measures were used to investigate symptoms of VT and personality traits in 36 lawyers and 30 MHPs. The results indicate that lawyers and individuals low on the Emotional Stability domain are significantly more susceptible to experiencing symptoms of VT. Exposure to trauma may be better managed by professionals in the mental health field, who have the advantage of having received trauma-specific training and access to informed peer support.