After the Webinar: Beyond Self-Care – The CE-CERT Model for Secondary Trauma and Burnout. Q&A with Dr. Michael Gomez

Webinar presenter Dr. Michael Gomez answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Beyond Self Care: The CE-CERT Model for Secondary Trauma and Burnout. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: One of our audience members share that she just loved how you phrased that Secondary Trauma (ST) is a virus that are we saying this correctly? ST is a virus and burnout is an immune deficiency? Could you rephrase that again? 

Michael Gomez: That’s right. I use the terms secondary trauma, vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue interchangeably. Those basically look a lot like PTSD. Something happens to you like the case went sideways and dad got a kid back, and the kid got raped again; that would be secondary trauma. There’s a thing that happened that’s really on my head. That’s the virus, you just got psychological COVID. But you can also have nothing happen to you, your job’s just freaking hard. For the physical immune system example an example would be if you don’t sleep for a couple of days, your immune system is suddenly in the toilet. So, like, you’re working 15-hour days, you got a hard case that you’re on, you’re an investigator or you’re an advocate. I worked 15-hour consecutive days, and my physical immune system was in the toilet, but my psychological one was also in the toilet. So secondary trauma is the virus. Whereas burnout is immuno-compromised or deficiency.


Audience Question: How do we become trained or certified in CE-CERT? How do we, is there a training program? What’s the process? 

Michael Gomez:  Good question. So, there are some formalized ones, we’re dealing with the States of Michigan, Oklahoma, and California’s doing a couple. If you all are out there in California, just get Dr. Miller, because basically, Dr. Miller is Dr. Pepper, I am Dr. Thunder, okay? That’s the correct metaphor. And so, Dr. Miller usually covers the West Coast.  Our University of Oklahoma team covers most of the central US.  I tend to cover all over the place. I’m kind of a shortstop, so I’ll cover like Eastern seaboard, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio. I’ve been kind of all over the place. But to answer the question directly, Dr. Miller has a kind of frustrating answer, but I love him for it, because some of our things, you have to get a certain certification by a certain trainer and we can do that. We tend to do that only with agencies. A big reason for that is, if I teach Christina CE CERT, but the agency doesn’t, Justice Clearinghouse doesn’t buy-in to it, then that kind of means that is your problem, Christina. Whereas if, Justice Clearinghouse says, “Hey, we as leadership have made a commitment to this,” then when Christina tries to do it, is going to be more likely to be successful. So, we want agencies to do this.  But there are places where that’s not happening, I’m in one right now.  The agency says, “I don’t know if we should do this, “ but I’m still doing CE CERT. And I will say, it’s not as effective as if my entire agency did it. But the short answer to that is you can get the book on Amazon. If you type in Brian Miller, you can get the actual book on Amazon. And it’s not called CE cert, but that is the name of it. It has a much longer title than that. It’s Reducing Secondary Traumatic Stress by Dr. Brian Miller. I think it’s like 35 bucks right now. It’s a workbook. It’s how to do CE-CERT as an individual provider. Because we know that that’s the norm for individual providers, it’s not saying you’re a bad agency. I don’t think I’m in a bad agency, it’s just it’s a lot for a whole agency to buy into this. Because I get it, as a person who directed clinics, yeah, that’s a lot. If I’m going to sign on for my whole team, I want to make sure it’s helpful for them. So, if you’re an agency or agency leadership, just give me or Dr. Miller an e-mail. If you are like an individual provider, and don’t know if your agency will sign on, still send me an email. I get no money from that at all, by the way. It’s just a really good manual or book, I would also advise getting anything by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky, Trauma Stewardship or Age of Overwhelm are two of her best books. There are a lot of other ones out there like Compassion Fatigue Workbook by Francois Mathieu. But to answer the question directly. You can get the CE CERT manual, and start working through it on your own, and that’s fine, but we do do agency training, so you can just contact us. There are only like seven of us trainers. I don’t know how I got in the door. But hopefully, that answers the question. And if I didn’t, please just let me.


Audience Question: What are the next steps if we want to implement this model in our agency?

Michael Gomez: Okay, if you’re interested in agency-wide, there are some really good steps we actually have. We met as a Secondary Traumatic Stress Consortium run by Dr. Miller and also Dr. Allison Hendricks. And essentially there are organizational assessments, you can find them at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Or if you type in Google STS organizational assessment. You’ll probably be able to get it. It’s through the University of Kentucky. Some of them you might have to request through Dr. Ginny Sprang at the University of Kentucky. She is a very lovely individual, and she’s a researcher, so she’d ask like, “Hey, if you do my assessment, can I just talk to you about your experience?” It’s proprietary to her but we at NCTSN we have a motto of steal shamelessly, share relentlessly. And the general organizational assessment for secondary trauma can be accessed by the public, it’s public domain. There are ones that are like 30 pages though. I’d also recommend the Pro-QOL Professional Quality of Life Scale. You can get that online in multiple languages, by the way. And so, the Pro-QOL is what we have given individual providers at an agency to see how they’re doing. We just did this with one of our Michigan agencies as preparation for a full model rollout for their agency. They also did the secondary Trauma organizational assessment as a leadership. And so, we kind of use a two prong approach of the individual provider data with the organizational data to see what’s going on.  Because you also have strengths as an agency, and that’s the last thing I’ll say, is you actually are doing things right. So, we don’t want you to stop that, because sometimes agencies are like, “We’re going to stop everything.” No, you’re not too far off. What we’re going to do is a software update, we’re not going to do a hardware rip. And so, those two tools are very helpful for an agency level, but, again, feel free to also reach out and contact me, or any of the other certified CE cert trainers, or developer Dr. Brian Miller.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Beyond Self Care: The CE-CERT Model for Secondary Trauma and Burnout.  



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