When engaging with women involved in selling or exchanging sex, workers can hear about violence, abuse and exploitation which can have an impact such as vicarious trauma. This is why offering effective support and supervision is essential for those working in areas where they can be exposed to trauma.
Effective support and supervision is a critical element of trauma-informed practice. It recognises that trauma is pervasive and therefore seeks to mitigate its impact. Above all, it plays a key role in preventing and managing the burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma that those in helping professions are exposed to.
In our Safety bulletin, we asked readers to describe effective support and supervision in their own words. We received some insightful responses that show just how important it is for teams to incorporate the five principles of trauma-informed care.
Below we show how the responses we received link to those five principles:
Safety: supervisors provide physical and psychological safety in the environment and relationships. Respondents listed stewardship, direction, administration which shows how important it is for the workers to feel that they are rooted within the organisation and that they are part of a collective when navigating the complex waters of human services.
Trust: supervisors lead with integrity and they are transparent and consistent in their communication. The responses that we have received included mutual trust and respect as well as more than box ticking – implying that workers’ trust needs to be earned through meaningful engagement process.
Collaboration: supervisors address power asymmetries and engage staff in the decision-making process. The importance of listening, patience and genuine care was highlighted in our survey.
Empowerment: supervisors promote a strengths-based approach. Some of our readers prioritised praise and encouragement, showing that staff want to feel valued and celebrated.
Choice: supervisors ensure that staff have a voice within the organisation and offer choice whenever possible.
Your comments made it loud and clear: support and supervision cannot and should not be a mere box-ticking exercise. It has to be relational, adequately resourced and visionary.