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Help needed with research project: “Vicarious Traumatisation: The Impact on Solicitors Working with Traumatised Asylum Seekers”


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Vicarious or secondary traumatisation refers to the emotional impact of bearing witness and engaging in an empathic way with traumatic material. As a solicitor or caseworker, working with asylum seekers and refugees can be extremely rewarding, but also very emotionally demanding. This electronic research project (conducted by Line Rønning, a psychology student from the University of Copenhagen and Jocelyn Blumberg, clinical psychologist at the Traumatic Stress Clinic, Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust), aims to explore the hypothesis that despite training in maintaining a professional distance and an objective stance, solicitors and caseworkers working with trauma survivors may experience vicarious traumatisation. This may be due to bearing witness and engaging empathically with their clients’ horrific stories of human rights abuses.

What are the benefits associated with participation?

The results of the study may assist in various ways, i.e. address the need for more training or supervision in working with traumatised clients and help solicitors working with refugees and asylum seekers to understand how different behaviours, thoughts and/or symptoms can arise from working with this client group.

Who can participate in the study?

Solicitors, trainee solicitors and case workers working in the area of asylum and immigration law

What are my rights as a participant?

  • You have the right to withdraw your participation at any time without prejudice.
  • You have the right to have any unprocessed data withdrawn and destroyed, provided it can be reliably identified, and provided that so doing does not increase the risk for the participant.
  • Your practice has the rights to receive feedback on the results.
  • Your completed questionnaire is anonymous and confidential and will not ask for any information that can identify you personally.
  • Completing the questionnaire will be taken as consent to include the information you contribute with in the data set.

Whom should I contact if I have any questions?

Please contact Line Rønning in the first instance on ronning.line@gmail.com if you require support or debriefing for any issue that may have resulted from your participation. You may also contact Jocelyn Blumberg (Jocelyn.Blumberg@candi.nhs.uk).

Link to access the questionnaire: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T5V7S97
Password: solicitor2017

Approximately time of completion of online questionnaire: 25 minutes.

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.