Clinicians are charged with being diligent in gaining competency in the latest trauma‐informed interventions when working with relational trauma. This may invest therapists with an overresponsibility that is not only overwhelming and unrealistic, but serves to reduce autonomous functioning in family members. Therefore, clinicians need to become clear about what they are responsible for and what they are not, particularly when family members present as irresponsible or too anxious to think and act more effectively. Using a case vignette, this paper discusses how a clinician's focus on increasing their differentiation of self, a concept embeded in Bowen family systems theory, protects against vicarious traumatisation, secondary traumatic stress, and burnout whilst contributing to more autonomous functioning and better wellbeing outcomes for both clinicians and clients alike.


vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, burnout, Bowen family systems theory, self-care, resilience, autonomy

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