The steps to follow to rebuild yourself after a professional trauma

The steps to follow to rebuild yourself after a professional trauma

After a hard blow and trauma caused at work, it can be difficult to consider a return to professional life with peace of mind. But it can also be built intelligently. Explanation with Marie Donzel, social innovation consultant and author of “Harassment at work: Beyond the clichés: analyze, act and prevent harassment in the workplace” (Mardaga editions).

Harassment, denigration, physical attack, bereavement… Professional life can sometimes be brought to a sudden halt by a traumatic event which impacts the victim’s entire life, including their integrity. But how do you get out of it, how do you get back on your feet and find balance in your work?

What is occupational trauma?

At work, as in any social organization, it is possible to experience trauma. This can be linked to social violence such as harassment, pressure, discrimination, being exposed to a stressful event such as suicide or an injury, or even a fear for one’s physical safety, living conditions. dangerous work… For Marie Donzel, professional trauma, “it is the fact of having impacts on one’s physical and psychological health or even on one’s professional future linked to a painful ordeal in the context of work.

The typical impact of workplace trauma is “a loss of all confidence, the fear of having to start from scratch or the difficulty in returning to work, because it is associated with anxiety.

These legitimate answers that don’t work

To overcome the trauma, we must react as soon as possible, before the person wants to leave.because then it can take years to repair”, indicates the speaker. However, certain responses, which we may think are judicious, do not work to prepare the person, or at least, are not enough.


The first thing that victims or those around them think of, in a situation of interpersonal violence for example, is the need for punishment. We wait for the fault to be punished “while having an ambiguous expectation since sometimes, a sanction that is too heavy proves difficult to assume”. But if this sanction is necessary, it is not restorative. “It only has one function, that of recognizing the existence of the facts and the prejudice. But the victims, even if the perpetrator is punished, have not necessarily reconstructed themselves.”

The collective’s position

The other common aggravating factor is when the collective takes control of the situation. When the situation takes time to be resolved, clans often form, sometimes with rumors and opinions, which become excessive violence. While the victims only want the “action” to stop, but when the collective gets involved, the person even finds themselves dispossessed of their action. Which doesn’t help him.

In what situations can the person rebuild themselves?

It’s not all negative, however. For our expert, it remains possible to repair an employee’s trauma, by focusing on respecting the needs of different people. In addition to psychological monitoring of the person, it is necessary to put in place what is necessary to ensure that the facts do not happen again. “A traumatized person needs to look to the future with security and serenity, and therefore wants guarantees” cour expert confirms.

This therefore induces a transformation of the company culture, which must enable two things:

  • On the one hand, transform the landscape in which people operate to provide them with more security;
  • On the other hand, to install a different communication framework that allows you to speak freely if something happens again.

It is only in this capacity, on a professional level, that an affected person will be able to return to work and get back on their feet, “When she feels that her situation has contributed to changing the landscape, that what happened to her has a use, that her suffering has made it possible to change things.”