Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT)
Since being awarded federal Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime funding in 2014, the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice at Northeastern University has been leading the effort to create a first-of-its-kind and state-of-the-field online resource for victim assistance, emergency medical services, fire and law enforcement organizations to address vicarious trauma. Literature and resource materials have been widely researched, compiled and vetted, and a rudimentary Toolkit was pilot-tested by the intended disciplines in seven communities with diverse demographics in all regions of the United States.
The national, interdisciplinary Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT) Project Team worked to ensure that the VTT will be the most comprehensive and highest quality central repository of resources available to date for agencies and organizations seeking to become “vicarious trauma-informed.” The project’s overarching goal is to ultimately make a difference in the lives of first responders and victim assistance providers, to help ensure their health and well-being and to sustain the delivery of the highest quality services to those in need. We know that the most valuable resources are those actually being effectively used in the field. This project continuously broadened its literature and internet searches and cast a wide net into the targeted fields of practice to amass the research and tools ultimately incorporated into its content. As such, the Toolkit is inclusive of the most useful and relevant policies, procedures, practices and programs currently being utilized within the first responder and victim assistance fields.
In addition, the pilot study helped to refine a tool that was developed expressly for the Toolkit and has a two-fold purpose. The Vicarious Trauma Organizational Readiness Guide (VT-ORG) enables an agency to assess its strengths and gaps in core areas of organizational health. It is also designed to assist the Toolkit user in navigating its contents to find the resources needed to address identified gaps. The final VT-ORG is the outcome of one year of pilot study, user review and feedback, and extensive application of the relevant evidence.
The pilot study and two national summits of experts from diverse disciplines illuminated additional gaps in resources. The project team reviewed the gap analysis and determined that some of the priority gaps identified were ones that could filled, at least in part, by collaboratively creating new tools. These tools include a set of six guidelines for agencies and organizations seeking to become vicarious trauma-informed and PowerPoint presentations with detailed instructor notes tailored to assist agencies of each targeted discipline in raising staff and leadership’s awareness about vicarious trauma.
In addition, short educational videos were recommended for inclusion in the Toolkit. As such, two videos were produced, one for victim services and one for first responders.
Each video accessed from the VTT Home Page provides a general overview of vicarious trauma. In addition, there is an introduction to the Toolkit, and testimonials from experts in each discipline on the duty and responsibility agencies and organizations have to address vicarious trauma. Content for the videos was drawn from field interviews conducted with diverse professionals from our intended disciplines.
WHEN WILL THE VICARIOUS TRAUMA TOOLKIT BE AVAILABLE?
The Toolkit is currently under construction by the federal Office for Victims of Crime and is expected to be launched in the Spring of 2017. In the meantime, the VTT Project Team can provide FREE training and technical assistance to your agency and organization, utilizing the resources and tools contained within the Toolkit.
HOW CAN MY AGENCY ACCESS FREE TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE BY VICARIOUS TRAUMA TOOLKIT PROJECT TEAM?
The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT) Project is offering FREE training technical assistance (TA) that will utilize the contents of the Toolkit before it is officially released in Spring 2017. Your agency can request up to five (5) hours of training and TA in the following areas:
- Training on Vicarious Trauma
Our VTT TA Advisers can deliver training that can help staff and volunteers deepen their knowledge about vicarious trauma, build the organization’s in-house training capacity, and promote discussion about organizational strategies to address vicarious trauma. This training can be provided via webinar or web conference and, on a limited basis, on-site.
- Using the Vicarious Trauma Organizational Readiness Guide (VT-ORG)
The VT-ORG is a tool created specifically for the VTT to help your organization assess its current capacity to address employees’ work-related trauma exposure. This assessment tool takes a broad, multi-level look at the organization’s response to vicarious trauma. Its purpose is to help your organization assess its current strengths and gaps in responding to vicarious trauma, and to use to create an action plan. A VTT TA Advisor can help your organization consider ways to use this tool as you further your efforts toward becoming a vicarious trauma-informed organization.
- Setting Priorities
Whether you use the VT-ORG or your own assessment method, the VTT TA Advisors can help your organization determine which gap(s) to consider addressing first and identify next steps.
- Providing Relevant Research and Resources from the VTT to Address Organizational Needs
Using the priorities your agency identified, A VTT TA Advisor will search the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit for relevant research literature, resources and other tools that may help your organization to address your identified gaps.
To request free training and/or technical assistance from the VTT Project Team, please complete the Training & Technical Assistance Request Form and send it to VTToolkit@northeastern.edu. Once reviewed, we will respond to your request as soon as possible.
PILOT SITES APPLAUDED:
Northeastern University’s Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice is grateful for the seven pilot sites across the United States for lending their individual and collective time and experience over a 3-month period to test the rudimentary Vicarious Trauma Toolkit and first draft of the Vicarious Trauma Organizational Readiness Guide (VT-ORG).
Click here to read more about the pilot sites and their locations.
- An extensive search and review of literature and internet resources;
- A national survey of, and continued outreach to, the field to acquire and assess existing policies, procedures, practices and programs;
- A gap analysis to determine what is lacking in the identification, prevention, and treatment of the effects of vicarious trauma;
- Development of the Vicarious Trauma Organizational Readiness Guide (VT-ORG) and other new tools to fill identified gaps;
- Refinement of the VT-ORG based on evidence from the fields of organizational psychology and development;
- A compilation of training and technical assistance resources for the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit.