Reducing Trauma in CX Work

Navigating Trauma in CX Research: Lessons Learned from the GovCX Collective

Addressing trauma in CX work is a challenging topic. CX in the government space often focuses on improving services for vulnerable or marginalized groups who have experienced traumatic events. These kinds of services are life-essential and require both practitioners and beneficiaries to broach sensitive topics to make vital improvements.

In the first event of 2024, the GovCX Collective hosted a virtual event to discuss how CX practitioners can reshape practices to better care for themselves and the people impacted by this work. Our partners from TechFlow and expert panelists from government, academia, non-profits, and industry shared their experiences and perspectives on trauma in CX work. They dove right into topics like the normalization of trauma in civic tech and shared insights from a recent survey on CX trauma.

The panel also shared tips on how practitioners can prepare themselves for working with tough topics when researching human experiences. Here are a few of our takeaways!

Designers have a window into many different forms of human trauma during the research process — everything from natural disasters to PTSD in veterans to issues with children and families. However, practitioners and business leaders working in government should understand that trauma is agnostic and happens in many ways.

From experiencing an illness or worrying about supporting your family financially, you could be at any agency and find stress and trauma in all parts of the human experience. It’s not only in the deep dark places — it’s in our everyday life.

Researchers and designers experience things like burnout and fatigue quickly without the right support and tools. Striking the balance between empathy and resilience is important during the research process, and CX professionals must know how and where to get the help they need.

A few things that helped our panelists manage their experiences with trauma during research include:

  • Seeking peer-to-peer interaction with trusted individuals
  • Getting training for coping with trauma
  • Practicing mindfulness or meditation
  • Following the PING process in the moment: Pause; Imagine; Now; Gratitude
  • Connecting with experienced clinical supervision

Improving citizen services — especially those that deal with trauma — is a collective effort. To support CX practitioners on the ground, business and agency leaders need to understand the impact of this work and use their influence to build organizations that support those in the field. 

A few tips from our panel include: 

  • Get training or do self-study on how trauma impacts those you serve and the researchers you employ.
  • Check out the National Center for PTSD website, including the Stress First Aid Framework which helps employees and coworkers to come forward and ask for what they need.
  • Stay connected to groups like the GovCX Collective or join our Slack channel to learn how you can help the CX community. 

Thank you again to our amazing panelists and everyone who participated in this event!