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Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  913 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
A longtime trauma worker, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky offers a deep and empathetic survey of the often-unrecognized toll on those working to make the world a better place. We may feel tired, cynical, numb, or like we can never do enough. These, and other symptoms, affect us individually and collectively, sapping the energy and effectiveness we so desperately need if we are to ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published 2007)
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Apr 12, 2014 Tinea rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tinea by: Dirk
I brought this book with me to the Central African Republic, and read it by headlamp in a dark room after they shut the generator off for the night each night over about a week. I started the book about 3 weeks after I arrived in this northwestern town comprised of burned and knocked down houses, empty quartiers, and, at the time, two crowded tent cities, one surrounding the main church and its many outbuildings, the Christian camp, at one point some 40,000 strong when the vast majority of the t ...more
Apr 09, 2009 Shreya rated it really liked it
i really liked this book filled with stories, anectdotes, case studies, cartoons (that actually made me laugh out loud. that doesn't usually happen), accessible descriptions of what burnout and trauma exposure response looks like on different people, in different situations, which is so important. it was comforting to hear people process their burnout and how they moved forward from there.

i really liked the warning signs chapter--it didn't talk in overly clinical terms, just descriptions i could
Jen Cross
Nov 19, 2010 Jen Cross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book for anyone who has experienced trauma or loves or works with folks who have experienced trauma -- that means, most of us. Laura describes clearly and gently what it looks like when we're overloaded with caregiver's fatigue or secondary trauma response, and presents a powerful model for radical self-care (which also ends up meaning radical community care). As a sexual violence survivor who works with other trauma survivors, I recommend this book to everyone in my communi ...more
Apr 15, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Okay, social work friends, this one’s for you! Well it’s for anyone, really, looking to expand self-awareness and practice more deliberate self-care. Social services workers, though, are particularly prone to challenges that come with both magnificent rewards and, if we’re not careful, magnificent consequences.

In Trauma Stewardship, Lipsky & Burk outline trauma exposure and its effects on us folks in the business of helping others. Too often, lost in other people’s realities and hurts, we f
Sep 07, 2012 Carolina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-school
I feel like I have had this book recommended to me about 5 or 6 different times from as many different people/areas in my life. Most have described it as the definitive work on how to care for yourself when the work you do or the life you lead puts you in contact with trauma on a regular basis. I can't say I have read that many other books that are trying to do that particular thing (I have read zero, which I think is part of people's point), but I have to agree that this one is really REALLY ex ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Wade rated it it was amazing
This book came along at the right time. Rather than proposing a template to follow to "fix" people who wade into any kind of difficult work that can leave you feeling hopeless, the authors provide a meditation on the personal stories, life experiences, and broad themes of those working with trauma.

I like the mix of personal anecdotes, interviews, cartoons, and exploration of spirituality, and the format lends itself to being a workbook rather than a read-and-think-about book. The author is able
Jun 14, 2009 beauregard rated it really liked it
Shelves: trauma-healing
"To participate in trauma stewardship is to continuously remember the privilege and sacredness of being called to help another sentient being; it means maintaining our highest ethics, integrity, and responsibility every step of the way"

"Taking care of ourselves while taking care of others allows us to contribute to our societies with even more impact that we will leave a legacy informed by our deepest wisdom and greatest gifts instead of burdened with our struggles and despair"

- i like this book
Sep 01, 2008 Rozz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent new book on ways to look at what trauma is. I especially like the institutional part of it. Too often, trauma is looked at as a personal thing, but looking at it as a collective force as well helps to keep a lid on flipping out, by acknowledging that is isn't all on me or some other person that is sometimes scapegoated. The only thing that is missing is the collective grief process, that is lacking in her analysis. Someone else may pick up that one and hopefully soon.
Martin Prechtel h
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended reading and I will in turn highly recommend it for anyone working as a any type of caregiver, paid or not, or in anyone who works in the helping services like social work who face a steady stream of stress, unrelenting demands and quite possibly unfixable situations. Nothing really new here for me but good reading nonetheless. It's all about knowing your boundaries, recognizing the symptoms that it's time to get some self care so that you can continue to care.

A few weeks before Chri
Kaity Molé
Aug 18, 2015 Kaity Molé rated it it was amazing
Invaluable for anyone who works in human services
Dec 03, 2013 Sthea rated it it was amazing
An important read for anyone trying to change the world.
There's something so good in reading a book that feels like it's written just for you, and knowing that so many others felt the same way while reading. It makes you feel less alone in the world.

This book was recommended to me twice in the same week by two completely different people after conversations about my personal experience with burnout and grief coming out of 5 years living and working in Detroit. I read it once and have been recommending it to so many others since then. It's a book I'l
Anna Marie
Apr 18, 2014 Anna Marie rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, for anyone who has experienced trauma, is a caregiver (of any kind, personally or professionally), or who is a student of the human story.

The author chronicles how secondary trauma exposure is real - and is has profound affects on caregivers. She lists the affects (16!) with lots of New Yorker cartoons for levity.

Then she recommends developing a spiritual or other practice - a daily practice - of doing some activity (meditation, walking, cardio for 15-45 minutes) some sor
Mar 18, 2012 Reid rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely outstanding book for all those who work in fields where they come into contact with those who are struggling to get through difficult lives. For those of us in helping professions, there is little that is more important than considering the effects of secondary trauma. When we are exposed to the traumatized people and other beings of the world, as well as the traumatized planet itself, we incorporate some part of that trauma into ourselves. Because over time we deal with hu ...more
Apr 21, 2013 Janet rated it really liked it
I'd been thinking about this book in recent months and recently reread it. "Trauma stewardship calls us to engage oppression and trauma -- whether through our careers or in our personal lives -- by caring for, tending to, and responsibly guiding other beings who are struggling. At the same time, we do not internalize others' struggles or assume them as our own. Trauma stewardship practitioners believe that if we are to alleviate the suffering of others and the planet in the long term, we must re ...more
May 06, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book for all of those in the service professions (social workers, nurses, etc), even those not in direct practice. The authors do a wonderful job at illustrating how clients, organizations/agencies, and organizational culture can create a lot of harm for their caseworker/staff. Secondary trauma runs so high even for those not in direct service but are doing work on behalf of really heavy topics (i.e. domestic violence, child welfare work, etc).
The book is told largely through differen
Nov 19, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny by: Shelter Directors' Meeting
Shelves: nonfiction-read
I'd recommend this book, an exploration of the cumulative effect of trauma exposure on service providers and other folks involved in trying to save the planet. It's getting a 4 just because it started out pretty rationally, with lots of profiles and cartoons, but the second half took a turn and got more spiritual, which would lose some of the folks I was thinking of recommending it to. But valuable concepts, nonetheless.

The front cover has a Langston Hughes quote from "The Dream Keeper": "Bring
Ngozi Williams
Feb 08, 2013 Ngozi Williams rated it really liked it
This was definitely a book that opened my eyes in regards to making sure that I cared for myself while I'm caring for others. For those of us that may be exposed to trauma through the trauma of other people's lives, this is a great tool that reveals you are just as capable of being traumatized, even though you didn't directly go through the trauma yourself.
The author does a great job of explaining what is behind the concept of 'trauma stewardship' and draws upon many different professions in whi
Alan Mills
Apr 01, 2016 Alan Mills rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Trauma is not experienced only by those directly traumatiz. Those of us who work directly (or even indirectly) with those who carry trauma take on some of that trauma everyday. In the end, we may be stewards of more trauma than any one direct victim suffers, as we see victims day in, day out, over and over. Lip sky terms this Trauma Stewardship, and lays out various methods of dealing with it.

A little too touchy feely, with an overly large dash of Buddhism, for me, still many of the suggestions
Dec 28, 2015 Alissa rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was like looking into a mirror. Absolutely essential reading for anyone who experiences trauma or deals with trauma-afflicted people in the workplace. The book's strength is helping trauma workers recognize signs of trauma exposure and response; its proposed solutions/self-care guide is a little weaker. Recognizing the signs is the first step, and a self-care plan needs to be more individualized than what this book can offer.
Feb 09, 2016 Erin rated it really liked it
This is an exceedingly articulate book for anyone interested in learning more about how the trauma experienced by other persons can impact those in a helping role towards that person. While much of it seems geared towards those in traditional helping professions, many of the examples span the spectrum to include less-commonly considered 'helping' professions such as environmental non-profits, animal and endangered species care, and other non-profits. Carefully balanced between academic and self- ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Jill rated it really liked it
Fabulous resource for anyone pursuing a career in the helping profession. It's easy to get overwhelmed and burnt out if you really care about what you are doing (and if you don't care, why are you doing it?), but Lipsky provides a reality check and road map for getting through it with your soul intact. Might even be good for spouses or partners of those in the helping profession to read, too!
Josephine Ensign
Feb 10, 2016 Josephine Ensign rated it it was amazing
This is a book that I just finished re-reading and find it as--if not more--amazingly rich as the first time I read it years ago. This is a book I incorporate into my teaching, that I steer my nursing/health sciences students towards, and that I wish my younger self had had access to decades ago--back in my pre-flame-out stage of professional life.
Aug 28, 2015 Traci rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for anyone who is in a helping profession. Though it was an assigned text for a class in my MSW program, I have recommended it to a couple of friends who are in other professions with opportunities to help others. This is a book that I will reread and will keep nearby for reference
Marie Hew
Oct 06, 2014 Marie Hew rated it it was amazing
WOW! If I had know about secondary trauma and its stewardship 10 years ago, I would have had much more fun in the past decade. It's hard to say, "I love this book" because self-examination is never joyful. There were many instances throughout the book when I resonated with the secondary trauma scenarios described. I appreciated the diversity of social service worker and activist profiles which help those of us who are in the work connect to a larger community of people who have made many persona ...more
Aug 02, 2011 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to go to her workshop a few months ago, and was blown away. She comes from a (delightfully) lefty grassroots community work perspective, but I think her message translates to many environments. She's passionate, funny, smart, and unbelievably wise. She shares her journey - and how she has faltered along the way - and includes essays from others as well. While she offers many concrete self-care strategies, she primarily advocates a shift in perspective (both for individuals and ...more
The circumstances through which this book came into my life and the resonance of the content is nothing short of a God appointment! Strongly encourage anyone working in an arena where you are investing emotionally and mentally in those you work with to read this book! This book is valuable not only for learning how to deal with caregiver burnout/compassion fatigue with good trauma stewardship skills; the concepts also translate and apply to anyone who has had pain and suffering in their life, wh ...more
Jen Helfand
Oct 11, 2015 Jen Helfand rated it really liked it
I liked this book, appreciated it especially in the lineage of books like Trauma and Recovery. The subject matter resonates with me strongly and I liked how much she situated her own experience while acknowledging that trauma will impact people based on social location and positionality in a number of ways. It didn't quite feel as dreamy as I wanted it to be. Excited to think more about intergenerational trauma - and trauma across space. I liked the acknowledgement here of how it is quite hard t ...more
Mar 13, 2015 Sofija rated it really liked it
so glad I finally finished this important book. grateful it was written and it's an amazing guide for those of us working in "helping careers". I would absolutely recommend it to anyone working around trauma and hardship. vicarious trauma is real and this book helps us understand and cope with it as well as deal with our own, personalexperiences
May 14, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. Although it talks specifically about those that work with trauma and the impacts of secondary trauma the self care piece is so relevant to anyone that is trying to find balance in their work and home lives. So insightful.
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“Thich Nhat Hanh gives a talk in which he asks if we should have to work to appreciate the beauty in life. He replies that no, we should not ever have to work to take in what is beautiful, what is precious, what is sacred; we should simply be open to absorbing life’s blessings as often as they present themselves. Because, as he says,“Suffering is not enough.”Thich Nhat Hanh joins other masters who encourage us to be completely present for all things wonderful; if we are going to be present for life’s suffering, we will need all the nourishment and rejuvenation that comes from life’s beauty.” 1 likes
“To allow ourselves to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful. Thomas Merton, American Catholic theologian, poet, author, and social activist” 1 likes
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