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How do you Avoid Re-Traumatizing Trauma Survivors as You Collect Data?

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As we study social problems in society, we understand that trauma is often a factor in the lives of the participants in interviews or focus groups we are conducting.  How can researchers gather the information needed to inform service providers and government agencies without distressing the sharers?

What follows are ideas to reduce the chance of making participants uncomfortable as you record their responses to your questions.

o   Prior to beginning work with sharers, educate yourself on possible triggers to avoid and common challenging behaviors that might surface.

o   Make the setting as comfortable as possible. Try to generate the feeling of a safe and welcoming place.

o   Be sure to show the utmost courtesy to all involved with frequent use of please and thank you.

o   Refrain from using any judgmental language in encounters and be sure to use positive body language.

o   Engage in active listening and let stories be told with minimum interruptions.

o   Summarize and clarify details as needed, being sensitive to difficult topics.

o   Explain the purpose of collecting the information and if possible, how it will be used.

o   Thank the sharer for the help they have provided and give a small token of appreciation such as a gift card.

Collecting data from trauma survivors can be challenging. Using trauma-informed methods of interactions can make it easier for everyone.