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Long Version
Section 5: Lecture Content and Teaching Notes
Practical Supervision Strategies

4 hours, 30 minutes

(20 minutes)


Note: This topic benefits from people sharing their experiences with each other. Trainers are encouraged to draw on their own experiences. It may also be a good use of time to allow small-group conversations. A curriculum devoted to this topic is currently in development.

Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #22: What Is Secondary Trauma?
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Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #23: Effects of Secondary Trauma--Dealing with Sex Offenders Can:
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The concept of secondary trauma refers to the emotional and psychological effects experienced through vicarious exposure to the details of the traumatic experiences of others. Supervising sex offenders in the community certainly has its emotional and psychological effects on probation/parole officers.

When sex offenders who are under community supervision treat probation/parole officers as they treat their victims—in a manipulative, denying, and blaming fashion—officers may feel victimized and abused.

Effects of Secondary Trauma8

  • Dealing with sex offenders can distort perceptions of normal behavior.
  • Listening to sex offender disclosures is emotionally draining and extremely difficult.
  • Recognizing and firmly confronting an offender's manipulation and abuse of power is part of the treatment team's work. The use of "official" power sometimes violates an officer's sense of how people should be treated.
  • Working constantly with deceit and manipulation, and being a frequent target of it, can create a sense of distrust of others.
  • Feeling responsible for community safety can be very burdensome and taxing.

Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #24: Signs of Secondary Trauma
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Signs of Secondary Trauma9

  • Feeling distrustful of others, both inside and outside one's job.
  • Feeling overly responsible for the safety of the community.
  • Overusing one's coping skills.
  • Feeling isolated.
  • Denying one's own needs in the face of the work that must be done to protect others.
  • Experiencing relationship problems.


Use Slide # SymbolUse Slides #25-26: What an Agency Can Do to Mitigate Secondary Trauma
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Mitigating the Effects of Secondary Trauma (Agency)10

  • Provide agency support for professionals working with this population.
  • Provide sex offender-specific training for professionals who work with this population.
  • Train management staff to understand the dynamics of sex offending behavior and issues associated with secondary trauma.
  • Establish and maintain clear boundaries and expectations regarding issues of power.
  • Provide a safe forum for professionals to discuss all aspects of sexual assault and sex offender management.
  • Create an environment in which staff members are not afraid to laugh.
  • Send a clear message that an offender's failure is not the officer's failure.
  • Stay abreast of changes in the field.
  • Provide a safe forum for professionals to air differences and resolve conflicts.
  • Create flexibility in assigning officers to supervise sex offender caseloads.
  • Create a collaborative process so that decisions are team based.
  • Maintain clear work boundaries and policies.
  • Encourage staff to maintain balance and a rewarding lifestyle apart from work.

Use Slide # SymbolUse Slides #27-28: What an Individual Can Do to Mitigate Secondary Trauma
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Mitigating the Effects of Secondary Trauma (the Individual)11

  • Listen to feedback from colleagues, friends, and family members.
  • Take care of yourself. Some suggestions include creating a self-care list and posting it prominently in the home or office, being creative, getting away or outside, enjoying other environments, appreciating the weather, having fun, socializing, and seeking counseling if needed.