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Witnessing Lived Experiences: Stories from Frontline Healthcare Workers

Healthcare providers, specifically frontline workers, have endured tremendous stress during the pandemic. The alarming context of this health emergency has placed them in the center of extreme circumstances including fear of being infected and infecting others, higher workloads, insufficient medical equipment, disruption of regular routines, extraordinary pressures, and emotional pain of losing patients and colleagues. These conditions have made them more vulnerable not only to physical symptoms, but also to increased rates of anxiety, depression, stress, irritability, insomnia, anger, and frustration. This group is also at risk for the development of PTSD.

We also now know that survivors of COVID-19 are more susceptible to trauma reactions, including posttraumatic stress. Both physical symptoms and experiences in medical environments not only contribute to psychological distress, but also grief in what has been lost in terms of quality of life and normalcy.

This session focuses on both frontline healthcare workers’ COVID survivors’ mental health vulnerability for adverse repercussions and what is known about their traumatic stress. The overall goal is to bring awareness to the importance of providing psychological assistance to healthcare professionals and these survivors during and after the current pandemic. The panel includes both survivors and frontline medical personnel who will provide examples of lived experiences to supplement current clinical knowledge.


  • Name three characteristics of vicarious traumatization in frontline healthcare workers
  • Define the term COVID long hauler
  • Identify at least two mental health challenges for COVID long haulers
  • Discuss why psychotherapeutic support and referral to specialty care should be available to health workers with adverse psychological outcomes during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Explain why psychotherapeutic support and referral to specialty care should be available to COVID survivors’ because of adverse psychological outcomes during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic

Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Bessel van der Kolk, MD is a pioneer clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of posttraumatic stress. His work uniquely integrates developmental, neurobiological, psychodynamic, somatic and interpersonal aspects of the impact of trauma and its treatment.

His #1 New York Times Science best seller, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Treatment of Trauma transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including body work, psychodrama, mindfulness techniques, parts work, yoga, and neurofeedback, Dr. van der Kolk and his various collaborators have published extensively on the impact of trauma on development, such as dissociative problems, borderline personality and self-mutilation, cognitive development, memory, and the psychobiology of trauma. He has published over 150 peer reviewed scientific articles on such diverse topics as neuroimaging, self-injury, memory, neurofeedback, Developmental Trauma, yoga, theater and EMDR.

He is founder of the Trauma Center (now the Trauma Research Foundation) in Boston, MA; past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School. He regularly teaches at universities and hospitals around the world.

Vander Kolk B web

Michelle Esrick

Michelle Esrick is an award-winning Director, Producer, Activist and Trauma Awareness Advocate. Her critically acclaimed film, Cracked Up, reveals the impact of childhood trauma across a lifetime through the story of SNL legend Darrell Hammond. The film was released on Netflix in 2020 as well as Educational distribution.

Chris Lyford of Psychotherapy Networker wrote,

The clinical community is singing its praises!“The world desperately needs to see this movie!” said trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk.”

And Maureen Seaberg of Psychology Today wrote,

"I came to learn the film is much more than a film. It’s not just a movie; it’s a movement.” -

Appearing before Congress, Michelle and Darrell helped add nine provisions for trauma informed care into the ‘Support for Patients and Communities Act’ which was signed into law in October 2018.

In May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Michelle created a powerful and inspiring virtual series called Cracked Up, The Evolving Conversation, exploring the many different areas of trauma and recovery, featuring leaders in the field of trauma and luminaries such as, Bessel van der Kolk, Gabor Maté, Jacob Ham, Jane Stevens, Darrell Hammond, Jane Fonda, V (formerly known as Eve Ensler), and more.

Learn more at

9 Michelle Esrick Director Producer of Cracked Up

Molly Quillin-McEwan

Molly Quillin-McEwan, RN, BSN, CCRN is the clinical lead educator for MICU/SICU at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in San Diego. Areas of interest and expertise include the recovery of open heart surgery patients, hospital-wide rapid response, and ongoing nursing education. She is responsible for maintaining the ongoing clinical competencies of the department and researching evidence and best practice to inform nursing care at the bedside. She designs and teaches ongoing classes for both new and experienced ICU nurses, and is responsible for the clinical onboarding of new staff to the Intensive Care Unit. Molly authors a bi-monthly newsletter tackling larger issues within the ICU and nursing, including burnout, grief and stress, and teamwork. The recipient of multiple awards within the Sharp Hospital System and the community for the caliber and quality of her nursing care, Molly is also an accomplished self-taught oil painter and sketch artist.


Cathy Malchiodi

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, ATR-BC, LPCC, LPAT, REAT holds a doctorate in research psychology and is a clinical mental health counselor, and expressive arts therapist specializing in the treatment of traumatic stress. Dr. Malchiodi is the author of 20 books, including Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy: Brain, Body, and Imagination in the Healing Process and given over 500 invited keynotes and workshops around the world. She is the founder and director of Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute that provides education and training on expressive approaches to psychotherapists, counselor, coaches, educators, and somatic practitioners. Dr. Malchiodi is a contributing writer for Psychology Today and has a readership of approximately 5.3 million. To learn more about her work and publications, see www.cathymalchiodi.comand

Cathy 2021

Jaime Lillo, RN CCRN

Jaime Lillo, RN CCRN is a Medical ICU charge nurse at a 500+ bed, Level 2 trauma hospital in Tampa, Florida. She is implemental in training of new staff members to the 26 bed medical unit. Her expertise includes Sepsis protocols, Informatics and is an instructor for Continuous Renal replacement therapy. She is currently serving on the committee for the ICU rounding Optimization project, to help implement standardized rounds throughout all the ICUs in her healthcare system. Jaime was nominated for the Daisy award during the covid pandemic for her care and humanity during this crisis. When not at the hospital, she is a busy mother of 2 elementary aged kids and an avid open water distance swimmer.

Jaime Bried Lillo headshot1

Who this course is for

Counselors, Social Workers, Psychotherapists, Marriage & Family Therapists, Nurses, Psychologists, Addictions Counselors, Occupational Therapists, Case Managers, other Mental Health Professionals, Educators, Anyone with an interest in the subject.

This course is offered at the introductory level.

Witnessing Lived Experiences: Stories from Frontline Healthcare Workers

$35.00 USD

Program Only

Included features:

  • 60 Minute Lecture


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