Empathic Distress: Working with People with Addictions

Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2023
Time: 12 – 1 pm

This complimentary virtual learning opportunity requires pre-registration. Link to the webinar will be emailed to registrants on September 12.

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Program Description

Addiction is much more prevalent than people often believe. Some professionals choose to enter a field in which they focus on supporting recovery for people with addictions, and some encounter those with addictions either as clients/consumers or coworkers. A common response to encountering people with this disease is increased empathy. This webinar will discuss how compassion may be a more productive response to avoid the distress that comes with increased empathy. Specific indicators of empathic distress as well as healthy responses will be discussed. Attendees will also learn how this approach of compassion can both protect them and provide better support to those with addictions.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the definitional differences between compassion, empathy, and secondary trauma.
  2. Recognize the warning signs of empathic distress.
  3. Identify healthy responses to empathic distress as well as preventive measures.
  4. Explore ways to improve self-care which will benefit the working relationship with people with addictions.

Who Should Attend?

Healthcare professionals, students, and anyone interested in grief and loss and the impact of the pandemic.


Kerrie Gianvecchio, LCSW is a lecturer in the Department of Healthcare Studies. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University at Buffalo and has worked in the field of social work, including addictions, since 2000. Gianvecchio has a certificate in trauma informed care and has worked as a trauma consultant in an effort to make chemical dependency clinics more trauma-informed. She has experience working in all levels of care, including treatment courts, and is passionate about quality treatment for those with an addiction.


For questions: please email Dr. Jennifer Green-Wilson at jgreenwilson@brockport.edu