Vicarious Trauma: Emphasizing trust & connection

photo of smiling participant

Populations challenged by substance use, homelessness, and mental health concerns experience trauma at high rates. As a result of the empathic engagement necessary to practice harm reduction at the intersection of these experiences in Housing First settings, helping professionals can expect to experience vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma decreases the quality of services provided by limiting the ability to support connection and build trust. Providers and organizations must have the ability to identify signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma, and execute concrete strategies to improve client outcomes. In this session, attendees will explore the negative impacts of vicarious trauma in Housing First work, and develop skills to mitigate poor clinical outcomes.


12:45-1:00 PM | Virtual training room opens
1:00-1:10 PM   | Welcome, introductions, & check-in
1:10-1:30 PM   | Recognizing signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma
1:30-1:45 PM   | Vicarious trauma self-assessment
1:45-2:05 PM   | Understanding the impact of vicarious trauma
2:05-2:15 PM   | Break
2:15-2:45 PM   | Terms, definitions, and core concepts
2:45-3:05 PM   | Managing vicarious trauma
3:05-3:30 PM   | Interventions & break-out groups
3:30-3:45 PM   | Review, Q&A

Learning objectives

  1. Define the scope of vicarious trauma in a Housing First setting.
  2. Recognize mistrust and negative treatment outcomes as negative impacts of vicarious trauma on service delivery.
  3. Practice connectedness as a way to understand the prevalence of vicarious trauma.

Target Audience: Social service providers and helping professionals with direct client contact, and their supervisors.
Social Work Practice Level: This course is appropriate for beginner and intermediate BSW/MSW learners.  
Course Delivery Format: Live webinar  
Interactivity: This course will offer real-time polling, group discussion prompts, break-out groups, and 15 minutes of Q&A time.
Social Work Continuing Education Credit: 2.5 CE Credits*  
Fees: $30 general registration; additional $5 for registration with social work CE credit  

Registration includes access to the live event and recording, PDF of slides, and relevant training tip sheets/resources.

Session Facilitators:

Ryan Villagran, MSW, LSW (they/them), joined Housing First University in June 2021 as a Training Specialist. Ryan holds a Master of Social Work from Temple University with a concentration in Communities & Policy. Their clinical background includes delivering psychiatric rehabilitation services in the mental health recovery model at a Community Integrated Recovery Center. Ryan also developed and coordinated a training program in a university setting for social workers serving transitional-aged youth and later taught a Human Behavior in the Social Environment course for graduate social work students. Ryan believes in the power of our collective imagination to dream of a better future centered around those on the margins.

Renée Frink-Boyd, CPS (she/her), is a Training Specialist with Pathways to Housing PA’s training and educational initiative, Housing First University. Renee first came to Pathways in 2015 and served as a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) on a non-fidelity Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, where she focused on building meaningful connections with program participants with chronic health conditions. Later, she joined the Pathways’ Center of Excellence as a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Care Manager, where she assisted individuals with accessing MAT and MOUD services. Renee received her Peer Specialist certification in 2013. Her 10+ years of experience in the field includes working as an Employee Specialist at the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities, and as a CPS at Philadelphia area agencies including Horizon House and JFK Behavioral Health. Renee is passionate about building supportive peer relationships with individuals experiencing homelessness and managing co-occurring disorders.

ACE approval statement: Housing First University: a program of Pathways to Housing PA, provider #1759, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 01/12/2022 - 01/12/2025. Social workers completing this course receive 2 clinical continuing education credits.

*Housing First University, a program of Pathways to Housing PA, can provide continuing education credits to licensed social workers in 48 of the 50 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces. Due to current regulations, CE credits cannot be offered to social workers in the states of New Jersey or New York. If you are not a Licensed Social Worker, please check with your board of accreditation to ensure this training meets your licensing needs.


To request an accessibility accommodation, please email:

For questions or comments, please contact: 
Ryan Villagran, LSW 
Continuing Education Director 
Housing First University, a program of Pathways to Housing PA (215) 390-1500, ext. 1430