As previously discussed on this blog the concept of vicarious traumatisation has over time gone from a framework to a disorder, diagnosis and an inevitable outcome of working with traumatised clients. Halevi and Idisis (2018) have examined personal factors related to this concept. It seems these are important.
Halevi and Idisis (2018) explored the link between the phenomenon of “differentiation of self” (Bowen, 1978), and levels of reported vicarious traumatization. They found a strong negative correlation between vicarious traumatization and differentiation of self. That is the higher someone scored on differentiation of self the lower they scored on measures of vicarious traumatization. They stated:
“The results of this study point to the potential for differentiation of self to serve as an index of the ability to withstand vicarious traumatization.”
What is differentiation of self?
Interpersonal differentiation of self relates to the individual’s capacity to experience intimacy with those close to him or her, and at the same time maintain personal independence, an ability that significantly influences reciprocal relationships with those in the environment.
Individuals with low self-differentiation try to alleviate their anxiety either through emotional enmeshment with others (overinvolvement) or emotional disengagement (cutting off) from others.
Halevi & Idisis (2018). Who Helps the Helper? Differentiation of Self as an Indicator for Resisting Vicarious Traumatization. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 2018, Vol. 10, No. 6, 698–705
Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in clinical practice. New York, NY:Jason Aronson.