Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst is in Austin, Texas to present a program developed in Missoula called the Secondary Trauma Group, that in 2017 won an award from the National Association of Counties.

“Working on the front lines of the criminal justice system both for law enforcement as well as for prosecutors can be extremely difficult, and the subject matter is something that has a cumulative effect on professionals in the field that can cause early burnout and other health related problems,” said Pabst. “With the help of Andrew Laue, our trauma clinician, we put this program together to address secondary trauma before it becomes problematic in our workers.”

Pabst said the popularity of the program has spread rapidly.

“That program has taken off,” she said. “It has grown ever since we started it in Missoula three years ago and it’s actually spreading all over the country.”

Pabst will be speaking at the Women Prosecutors Section Committee Meeting in Austin, Texas on Friday.

“For prosecutors who are dealing with cases like Pierce and Standingrock where we’ve got gruesome photographs and videos and traumatized witnesses and things like that, a program like this is needed,” she said. “The second part is how to go about doing it. I’m not a trauma expert, but what I can tell them is from a prosecutor’s standpoint how we put it together and how they can do the same.”

The Secondary Trauma Group teaches prosecutors and staff data-proven ways to advocate for victims without compromising their own well-being.

In 2017, the program received a National Association of Counties Achievement Award and was named to NACo’s Top 100 Brilliant Ideas in Government list.