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Over the last few years, the National Institute of Justice has placed an increasingly large emphasis on the influence of work-related stress on mental health. In this special release episode, Just Science interviews Amy Jeanguenat and Andrew Levin, two experts in the field of workforce resiliency, about the impact of vicarious trauma on forensic scientists, analysts, and first responders.

The impact that stress has on a person’s mind and body can be dramatic, but the effects are amplified when the stressors involve violent, graphic, or traumatic material. Amy Jeanguenat and Andrew Levin are working to provide support to those affected by this vicarious trauma, with an emphasis on forensic scientists and first responders. Listen along as they discuss stress, mindfulness, and the future of resiliency in this episode of Just Science.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Amy Jeanguenat has spent her career working in the private forensic industry supporting efforts world-wide to prevent and eliminate DNA backlogs, refine operational logistics, and provide quality and technical system support. As a former laboratory director and technical leader, her leadership and management approaches constantly evolved in response to the demands of running a high-throughput laboratory. Workplace stress and its effect on productivity, turnover rate, and quality became a key focus of her research interests. In 2016, she launched Mindgen, LLC merging her interests in developing best practices for forensic science with the effects of mindfulness on human performance. Amy has completed training in mindfulness-based stress reduction and is a certified teacher of ancient wisdom, yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. She is applying these techniques to bring mindfulness-based techniques to forensic science to help improve decision making and the quality of work & life.

Dr. Andrew Levin is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he received residency training and completed an NIMH fellowship at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Department of Psychiatry Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. After fellowship, Dr. Levin directed the Behavioral Disorders Unit at Holliswood Hospital in Queens, the first of its kind in the New York area providing specialized cognitive behavioral treatment to survivors of childhood trauma, rape, and domestic violence suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder and dissociative disorders. Drawing on this unique expertise, Dr. Levin has consulted to the New York State Office of Mental Health, evaluating complex patients at civil and forensic facilities across the state. He currently holds the rank of Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University.

From 1995 to 2001, Dr. Levin directed the largest outpatient mental health service in Westchester County at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Harrison, NY. He then served until 2016 as Medical Director at Westchester Jewish Community Services, the largest and oldest social services agency in Westchester. In this role, he provided supervision and consultation to social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists and developed innovative delivery systems. Currently, he consults to the ECHO project enhancing the delivery of behavioral health in primary care, provides forensic consultation, maintains a practice focused on mood disorders and trauma, and teaches residents and forensic fellows at Columbia University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. As a member of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Dr. Levin chairs the Trauma and Stress Committee.  Publications have included work on personality, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, dissociative disorders, sexual harassment, and the impact of DSM-5 on forensic practice.  Dr. Levin has directed and authored unique studies of vicarious trauma in legal professionals. He regularly lectures judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals on identification and coping with vicarious trauma and stress.


Additional Resources:

Just Being Vocal about Vicarious Trauma Episode
Forensic Workforce Resiliency: Vicarious Trauma & Workplace Stress Webinar Series