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The Impact of Secondary Trauma in the Legal Profession

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Helping others gives a lawyer’s work meaning but carrying the weight of their client’s stress and trauma can also exact a heavy toll on a lawyer’s well-being. Secondary trauma is caused when one is indirectly exposed to someone else’s trauma, and it can develop into secondary traumatic stress which manifests itself in ways that mimic PTSD. Secondary Trauma can especially affect lawyers, judges, and child advocates like Guardian ad litem that work in juvenile justice, criminal justice, and family law.

The Florida Bar’s Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers Committee has been tirelessly working to destigmatize mental illness, recommend best practices and remedies, and help bring more balance into lawyers’ daily professional lives. In furtherance of this Bar-wide initiative, hosts Christine Bilbrey and Karla Eckardt speak with Dr. Erika Tullberg about the signs, symptoms, and causes of secondary trauma as well as ways to alleviate its impact on legal professionals.

Dr. Erika Tullberg is an Assistant Professor at NYU’s Langone Health’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, where her work focuses on the trauma-related needs of children that have experienced maltreatment, and the related needs of their parents and the caretakers, staff and systems that serve them.  She is currently serving as the Associate Director of NYU’s NCTSN Center for Child Welfare Practice Innovation, which is developing and implementing trauma-informed child welfare practices in partnership with child welfare providers around the country. Dr. Tullberg earned her PhD at the City University of New York School of Public Health, her MPH at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, her MPA at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and her BA at Columbia College.  She is also a foster and adoptive parent.

This podcast has been approved by The Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Department for 1 hour of General CLE credit including 1 hour of Mental Illness Awareness CLE credit. Course #5313.

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The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by The Florida Bar, their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, or representatives. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.

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