The Impact of Secondary Traumatic Stress Among Family Attorneys Working with Trauma-Exposed Clients: Implications for Practice and Professional Responsibility
10 J. Health & Biomedical L. 1 (2014)
51 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2014
Considering the high concentration of trauma-exposed clients in family law, including those subjected to domestic violence and child abuse, a discussion of how family attorneys can benefit from a new wealth of mental health research on post-traumatic stress is both timely and prudent for the welfare of both clients and attorneys. In particular, it is concerning that the cognitive biases resulting from attorneys' secondary traumatic stress when working with these clients may appear within the legal community as normative rather than bias-based or inappropriate. Risk factors among family law attorneys for secondary traumatic stress are identified, as well as recommendations for preventative and supportive approaches among the bar and Lawyer Assistance Programs. The goal is to improve the well-being of attorneys in high risk practice areas for traumatic stress, such as family law, and to bolster protection of clients against professional ethics violations and malpractice.
Keywords: traumatic stress, secondary traumatic stress, family law attorney, PTSD, professional responsibility, Lawyer Assistance Programs, secondary traumatic stress, vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation