Working Through the Trauma of Unemployment

Working Through the Trauma of Unemployment

Among the hundreds of negative effects the pandemic caused people across the United States, one of the most distressing was the rapid rise in unemployment and underemployment. People who had been working in the same industries and companies for years suddenly saw their lives upended, particularly in the service industry.

For many people, what you do for a living provides a sense of meaning, contribution, and financial security that can become part of your identity. Unfortunately, it is a part of your identity that can be ripped away through unemployment. Continued research shows that unemployment and underemployment can cause depression and a sense of malaise.

Many clients had been working in the same position for years, sometimes decades, and the sudden loss of something that was a large part of their lives had a devastating impact. JVS counselors wished to be better prepared to deal with the collective trauma of our clients as well as deal with the heavy emotional toll it takes on counselors working in trauma-informed care (TIC).  

The Director of Career Services, Jeffrey Blumenfeld, saw a need for some special training for his staff and arranged a workshop with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) to learn coping strategies for TIC work.

“We realized it was necessary to take care of the career counselors in this way, to make sure that we're better equipped to be able to recognize, address, and offer support that directly deals with the collective trauma our clients are dealing with,” said Blumenfeld.

Trauma can affect the way we perceive ourselves, others, and how we are in our relationships, which is why it is important to help our clients process it. Finding a job means presenting yourself in the best possible light, and it can be difficult to see yourself in that way while grappling with job loss and the uncertainty that comes with it.

TIC provides an extra set of tools to navigate the potential minefield of an individual's triggers and past experiences - someone that knows or has the training to manage people when they are vulnerable without creating any unhealthy codependence or boundary issues.

Conducting proper TIC means you are sensitive to trauma and keep trauma in mind rather than dismissing it or ignoring it. Trauma-informed workshops help participants learn to make their everyday acts respond to trauma's impact on mental health, both for their clients and themselves.