"In the case of a sudden loss of
put an oxygen mask on yourself first, before
attending to others"
individuals can tolerate the uncertainty of
the legal process, while others find it
overwhelming and maddening. For these
individuals, litigation is a traumatic
experience creating sleepless nights and
agonizing days filled with obsessive thinking,
panic attacks, and fear. Intrusive thoughts of
the legal case can invade daily activities and
disrupt evening dreams. It is as though time
has stopped for everything else ….”
L.J. & Vesper, J.H. (2001). Forensic
The International Journal on the Biology of
Stress, 25(1), 1-21.
Burn-out and vicarious trauma among family law
The work that we do
is not easy. It pulls at the heart strings,
calls in the middle of the night, and sometimes
even threatns our safety.
Bow, J. N.,
Gottlieb, M. C. and Gould-Saltman, Hon. D.
J. (2015), Risks from Clients and Opposing
Parties for Family Law Attorneys. Family
Court Review, 53: 317–325.
(2015), Do Not Make their Trauma Your
Trauma: Coping with Burnout as a Family
Law Attorney. Family Court Review, 53:
law lacks the black and white criteria
common elsewhere in the court system.
And family law hits close to home. Its
easy to let the lines blur between
personal and professional, allowing the
the pain and anger on one side to seep
into the other.
Vicarious trauma is one element of
burn-out. Helpers in every profession
are vulnerable to take on the pain of
Burn-out is insidious. It creeps up on
professionals slowly, often unnoticed.
It eats away at confidence and
motivation. It breeds lethargy and
depression and compassion fatigue.
Burn-out often progresses in four steps:
emotional and mental exhaustion
Shame and doubt
callousness - seeing cases rather
helplessness and crisis
Burn-out is epidemic
among family law professionals from the bench
through the front-line child protective service
and CASA workers. It undermines the quality of
our work by numbing us to other's pain and
making a child's unique potential and wishes and
needs into just another generic case.
Family Law Consulting PLLC will review work
product and hearing and trial transcripts and
evaluation reports alert to evidence of
professional burn-out to assure that all the
children's needs are met. Evidence of
oversights, failures of empathy, trivial errors,
and a callous disregard for the individual can
be reason to have a report withheld or sealed
from further scrutiny.
A bibliography of
resources regarding burn-out, vicarious trauma
and compassion fatigue is provided here
Read more here:
Pickar, D. B.
(2007). On being a child custody evaluator:
Professional and personal challenges, risks,
and rewards. Family Court Review, 45(1),
Burak; Sener, Mustafa Talip; Esin, Ibrahim
Selcuk; Ançi, Yüksel; Sapmaz, Şermin Yalin
(2014). Does working with child abuse cases
affect professionals’ parenting and the
psychological well-being of their children?
Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Vol
B. E., Jones, J. L., Macmaster, S. A.
(2007). Correlates of secondary traumatic
stress in child protective services
workers. Journal of Evidence-Based Social
Work, 4(3-4), 69-80.
R., & Turpin, G. (2003). Vicarious
traumatization: Implications for the
mental health of health workers? Clinical
Psychology Review, 23(3), 449-480.
Mathieu (2009). Signs and Symptoms of
Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma
This is sound advice
no matter who you are.
Self-care means refueling so that you are able
to give to others without depleting yourself.
Self-care is the remedy for burn-out and an
important model for our colleagues and our
Family Law Consulting PLLC will alert you to the
signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma,
compassion fatigue and burn-out as they appear
in the interest of assuring the highest quality,
child-centered work and the professional's
Family Law Consulting PLLC's work product review
and consultation to counsel in preparation for
deposition routinely includes review of the
deponent's continuing professional education and
participation in routine collegial consultation,
two common means of minimizing compassion
fatigue and burn-out.
Read more here:
Morgillo, L. (2015),
Do Not Make their Trauma Your Trauma:
Coping with Burnout as a Family Law
Attorney. Family Court Review,
D. (2000). Custody battle burnout.
American Journal of Family Therapy,