Vicarious Resilience

“Our capacity to help others is greatest when we are willing, able, and even determined to be helped ourselves.” – Van Dernoot Lipsky

“Just as no survivor can recover alone, no therapist can work with Trauma alone”  Herman

Facilitated interactive discussion about vicarious resilience as a new concept and it’s importance in the therapeutic relationship. With a focus on clients that are typically seen as challenging, such as severely traumatized or disorganized clients, participants will begin to deconstruct the therapeutic alliance through a new lens. Bringing awareness to the client’s resilience from a culturally embedded perspective, the group will begin to move to a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which therapists grow and are positively transformed by our clients. Participants will also be exposed to the ways in which this vicarious learning may be a protective factor against vicarious trauma.

Learning Objectives

1. Knowledge Base: Upon completion, participants will be able to:
1a. describe the concept of vicarious resilience
1b. list the effects of context and positionality on the therapist’s ability to learn vicariously
1c. demonstrate mutual impact in the therapeutic relationship

2. Skill Base: Upon completion, participants will be able to:
2a. deconstruct the therapeutic relationship using this concept
2b. create balance in the hierarchy, and empower clients

3. Attitudinal growth: Upon completion, participants will be able to:
3a. witness, examine and allow transformation through this understanding
3b. demonstrate an increased awareness of and attention to self-care as a necessity, not a luxury
3c. restore power to clients through acknowledging mutuality and reciprocity in the therapeutic alliance.


Engstrom, D., Hernandez, P., & Gangsei, D. (2008). Vicarious resilience: A qualitative investigation into its description. Traumatology, 14(3), 13-21.

Hernandez, P., Gangsei, D., & Engstrom, D. (2007). Vicarious Resilience: A new concept in work with those who survive trauma. Family Process 46(2), 229-241.

Hernandez, P., Engstrom, D., & Gangsei, D. (2010). Exploring the impact of trauma on therapists: Vicarious resilience and related concepts in training. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 29(1), 67-83.

Pack, M. (2013). Vicarious traumatisation and resilience: An ecological systems approach to sexual abuse counsellors’ trauma and stress. Sexual Abuse in Australia and New Zealand, 5(2), 69-76.

Pack, M. (2014). Vicarious resilience: A multilayered model of stress and trauma. Affilia-journal of Women and Social Work, 29(1), 18-29.