Moral Injury

This is a post for the therapists in the room about the difference between moral injury/systemic failure vs. vicarious trauma/inadequate self-care.

There’s a BIG difference between inadequate Self-Care, Vicarious Trauma, Compassion Fatigue, and Moral Injury.

The problem is when people in power (managers not on the frontline, funding bodies) victim-blaming practitioners to obscure systemic failures (not enough funding, not enough staff, not enough training, not enough resources, etc.) to blame on an individual practitioner’s failure in self-care/resilience.

We’re told it’s our fault that we burn out. We’re told we just need more clinical supervision,  some time off for a holiday, a new job, better boundaries, stop over-functioning, a lot of other bullshit – so that the broken system itself doesn’t take responsibility to change. When we get gaslit to believe the problem is internal to ourselves we don’t question the authority and system. The turnover in the social work industry is pretty regular around 18 months – 2 years in one role. People move around jobs thinking the fault is in their resilience, instead of of organising together for systemic change (better pay, more staffing, etc.). 

This is why a lot of social workers rage quit the public system to work in private practice where they control the conditions they work under. The AASW (Australian Association of Social Workers) have not been helpful in this space.

Lots of services advertise Vicarious Trauma/Self-Care workshops. I’ve even attended them (paid by work) instead of enacting meaningful change. 

In the absence of systemic support, we need to create our own communities. Vikki Reynolds has articulated a concept called, “solidarity team” which is different to group supervision. It’s goal is to spiritually and emotionally support each other in the pursuit of social justice and anti-oppressive practice. 

This video is about American healthcare workers but the same principle applies to social workers in Australia especially in the child protection system.

Picture from: https://crestresearch.ac.uk/resources/moral-injury-in-child-exploitation-investigators/


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