Joddie Walker on Building Resilience for the Front-Line Helper: It’s a Lifestyle, Not a Task on Your ‘To-Do’ List!

When we work on the front lines and hold positions where we listen empathetically to others’ trauma stories, it becomes imperative to take care of ourselves. Trauma exposure includes listening to other people’s experiences, and this exposure can impact our nervous system. This can create symptoms that affect our emotions, physical body, thoughts, thinking, and relationships.

Remember, resilience can mean bouncing back from the impact of trauma or bouncing forward. We can implement strategies to strengthen parts of ourselves as we continue to work in the trauma field, either before or after we are affected. hashtagResilienceBuilding hashtagTraumaInformedCare hashtagFrontLineWorkers hashtagSelfCare

Here are 5 tips to help strengthen resilience:

1 | Emotions
Increasing our capacity to identify emotions, label them, and then express them is crucial. Personally, I love expressing emotions through art. I am by no means great at it, but it really helps give shape and feel to something within me. There is a distinction between self-care and self-soothing. Art can change the distress from helping others, allowing us to identify the emotion and then shift and change it.

2 | Physical
Our bodies are designed for movement. Many of our frontline positions involve sitting in front of a computer, whether for the majority of our shift work, virtual support, or at a minimum, a few hours of administration. Include small movement breaks in your day. I challenge you to be creative in how you integrate this into your day or evening!

3 | Thoughts
Stress and traumatic stress exposure can create cognitive distortions or thinking errors. Print out a list of common thinking errors and post it on your fridge! It’s a visual reminder to challenge how you see or perceive a situation.

4 | Healthy Relationships
Having many friends who work in trauma-exposed fields, I’ve learned the value and importance of setting conversational and topic boundaries, both in and out of the workplace. As a result, I now have a wide variety of friendships, not just those who work in the trauma field!

5 | Support
It’s really important to me to have both clinical support and peer support. Having a safe space to express the variety of emotions that come with working in a trauma-exposed field is crucial. Clinical support allows me to strengthen my insights and skills, while my peers help validate and normalize my reactions and offer strategies as well.

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Joddie Walker
MSc, RP –
Trainer, Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute



To receive notification of a new blog posting, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
© CTRI Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute (
Interested in using the content of this blog? Learn more here.