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WEBINAR | Witnessing and the Camp Fire: Understanding the Effects of Overexposure to Stories of Trauma and What to Do About It


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Witnessing and the Camp Fire: Understanding the Effects of Overexposure to Stories of Trauma and What to Do About It

DATE: November 19, 2019 @ 12pm (PST) / 3pm (EST)


In the wake of the Camp Fire, people who provide support to fire survivors and fire-affected communities hear traumatic stories every day. In the course of doing their jobs, those providing supports and services are often in the position of witness.

Witnesses can experience distress similar to what fire survivors or fire-affected people experience. Sometimes the distress comes from the stories people tell them or directly observing interactions, while other times the distress comes from administrators directing policies and procedures that impact fire survivors and fire-affected communities. More often than not, distress derives from both sources. Witnesses may also have their own challenging histories. Situations in daily life may trigger memories of difficult moments, making it harder for witnesses to cope with contemporary stress.

This webinar provides an overview of empathic stress, moral injury, and microaggressions, and describes coping strategies for witnesses. Kaethe Weingarten, PhD, discusses the witness role and the impact it has on the behavioral health of witnesses. In the second half of the webinar we look at sources of resilience and what Dr. Weingarten calls “reasonable hope.” There is time for Q&A throughout the webinar.

We are pleased to offer 1.5 hours of CNE or CME credit at no cost to participants.

Learning Objectives
Participants will be able to:

  • Describe the four witness positions and daily sources of distress.
  • Understand strategies to cope with their own distress while helping people who lived through traumatic experiences.
  • Identify sources of resilience and reasonable hope in their own lives.


Michael Parchman
Michael Parchman, MD, MPH
Senior Investigator Michael Parchman, MD, MPH, is a nationally recognized scholar in chronic illness care research at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute’s MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation. A family practitioner and health services researcher, Dr. Parchman previously served as the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Practice-Based Research Network Initiative and senior advisor for primary care. 
Dr. Parchman’s research focuses on using complexity science to explore how diverse health care teams can work together to achieve high-quality care. He leads Healthy Hearts Northwest, a three-year project for primary care practices in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho that is funded as part of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s EvidenceNOW initiative. The project aims to help practices improve their patients’ cardiovascular health by expanding their existing quality improvement capacity.
Learning Objectives:  
Participants will be able to describe current challenges to managing opioid medications for individuals with chronic pain in a primary care setting. 
Participants will examine the six building blocks needed to build a quality improvement roadmaps to help primary care teams become effective.
Participants will identify at least 2 tools or strategies that can be applied in a primary care setting to address opioid use for long-term pain management.


Kaethe Weingarten, PhD
Kaethe Weingarten, PhD, is the founder and director of The Witnessing Project, a nonprofit organization that consults to individuals, families, and communities locally, nationally, and internationally to transform passive witnessing of violence and violation into effective action. She was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology for the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry from 1981-2017 and a faculty member of the Family Institute of Cambridge where she founded and directed the Program in Families, Trauma and Resilience. She directs the American Family Therapy Academy’s (AFTA) Witness to Witness Program, a project pairing AFTA members with providers overexposed to stories of trauma. (Kaethe is pronounced Kay-tah.)

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