Chapter 2: Where are you vulnerable?

When you disconnect too much


“We are trained to disconnect at work. The problem is that we risk being separated from our own emotional awareness and ultimately staying detached from others. We aren’t teaching clinicians how to reconnect”. - ICU Spiritual Care Provider

Disconnecting with our work is a way of protecting ourselves and is a common way of coping with trauma and grief. Sometimes disconnection will manifest in


Depersonalization: feeling separated or detached from one’s mind, feelings, or body.



Derealization: feeling apart or removed from one’s surroundings such that the person feels they are living in a dream


You may find yourself trying to put distance between yourself, the events surrounding you, and your response to vicarious trauma. Over time, this can result in symptoms of trauma, which can become more acute if not attended to, such as:

  • Intrusive memories
  • Efforts to avoid certain thoughts or reminders of events at work
  • Difficulties with memory, irritability, and depressed mood

A combination of these symptoms that are impairing your ability to function either personally or professionally, may be an indication of

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosable, clinically significant, and treatable psychological condition that merits professional consultation and support.

As ICU staff we cannot completely disconnect from our experiences