Preventing Retraumatization: Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS)

A Macro Social Work Approach to Trauma-Informed Practices & Policies

Secondary traumatic stress can follow exposure to another’s experience of trauma, resulting in emotional distress and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is as if we take in a portion of the trauma that the other has survived. Unlike burnout, which is a gradual process, STS can result from a single exposure to another’s trauma.

Retraumatization is a conscious or unconscious reminder of past trauma that results in a re-experiencing of the initial trauma event. It can be triggered by a situation, an attitude or expression, or by certain environments that replicate the dynamics (loss of power/control/safety) of the original trauma.

Sexual Violence Legislation Bill – New Zealand Parliament (

Sexual Violence Legislation Bill 185-2 (2019), Government Bill – New Zealand Legislation