Skip to main content


The psychological impact of crime and trauma scene cleanup (CTS) is often overlooked. The media might highlight the gory reality of these professionals’ work, but we rarely hear about the emotional toll it takes on them. Each cleanup is a dual challenge: managing the physical aftermath of violence while navigating the labyrinth of trauma it leaves behind. The memories of the stories, the scenes—every aspect shapes their future experiences in ways few of us can comprehend.
Psychological Impact

Understanding the Emotional Impact:

These professionals walk into spaces where life’s fragility markedly clashes with its rawness. The silent screams of despair and the physical reminders of tragedy mark their work—every job carving a new niche in their emotional landscape.

Imagine entering a room where life once thrived, now reduced to a shell of what it used to be. The sights, sounds, and smells don’t fade with the door closing; they linger.

They return in quiet moments, challenging the boundaries of personal peace.

Many technicians state after doing this work, they have a different view of death. Most can’t describe how it’s different; it just is.

Coping Strategies:

Acknowledging these challenges is the first step. For many in the field, debriefing sessions are anchors on the tumultuous seas of their experiences.

Organized or informal, these gatherings offer the understanding only peers in their field can provide. Beyond structured support, many professionals lean on their spirituality, turning to faith leaders for solace in emotional wreckage.

However, the waves of these feelings often ebb and flow unpredictably, which requires a continuous commitment to self-care.

Personal Stories – A Glimpse Behind the Curtain:

Psychological Impact
A professional bio-technician of crime and trauma scene cleanup shared a poignant realization that changed the course of their perspective.

They spoke openly about their initial struggles, laced with anger towards the victims, feeling the weight of the survivors’ grief.

However, he experienced an epiphany that changed his views in a scene featuring countless books on mental illness in a darkened room.

A voice from deep inside him spoke to reveal the victim’s struggle to stay alive and lose the emotional battle. It became a symbol of a struggle that some lost despite their efforts.

It was this moment of understanding that realigned their Emotional journey, releasing a flood of empathy in the place of rage.

Another recounted anecdote warned of the peril of taking on jobs involving family to acquaintances. A personal connection amplifies the grief, stirring emotional turmoil that took months to settle from one colleague who didn’t heed the warning.

One must maintain boundaries between personal and professional connections to safeguard the delicate balance of emotional well-being.

One company’s motto is “No one should be victimized twice.” They came up with that motto to reflect family members attempting the cleanup. But, as you read above, it’s a message that can apply to everyone in these situations.

It’s important to recognize the potential emotional toll of any job, whether it involves family or not. The effects of stress and trauma can be long-lasting if not managed properly.

That’s why self-care is crucial for anyone in a demanding or emotionally taxing job. Taking breaks, seeking support from colleagues or mental health professionals, and finding healthy outlets for stress are all critical steps in maintaining emotional well-being.

A Case Study:

During a training session, the instructor asked the employees if they would like an impromptu Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. The owner was present and agreed to stay for the meeting.

As employees shared incidents that affected them emotionally, the owner was asked if he would like to share any experiences.

He was also an ex-marine and volunteer EMT/Firefighter for their small community.

He reported that he wasn’t really affected by trauma and didn’t have anything to share. The instructor was skeptical but proceeded with another employee who wanted to share.

In the middle of the conversation with others in the room, the owner spoke up to recount a situation involving an auto accident and a young child being injured.

The owner interrupted three times during the meeting to recount other incidents.

The instructor stopped and pointed out that the owner strongly suggested he was never affected by the trauma he was involved with, yet he had recounted those three stories.

Everyone in the room was silent for several minutes. With tears in his eyes and a shaky voice, the owner replied, I was affected more than I realized. I’ve been lying to myself and can now see how it has affected my dealings with people.

It turned out to be a refreshing time of healing.

Companies should also prioritize creating a supportive and understanding work culture. CTS companies should provide resources for employees to manage their emotions.

They should promote open communication and empathy among team members and take proactive measures to prevent burnout and secondary trauma.

By implementing these strategies, both individuals and organizations can work toward reducing them.

The Way Forward:

As we shed light on the psychological landscapes of those who undertake crime and trauma scene cleanup, it’s clear that advocating for their mental health stands paramount.

Ongoing dialogue within the CTS community, supported by mental health professionals who understand this nuanced trauma, can pave the way for robust support systems.

Organizations that offer trauma-informed care could be pivotal in addressing these professionals’ unique challenges.

The conversation must expand to create a comprehensive, nationwide strategy supporting mental well-being in this field.

In conclusion, the stories of those who stand at the intersections of pain and peace, grappling with the vestiges of violence and trauma, remind us of the complex web woven by human emotions.

Their tales of resilience and renewal mark a hopeful path forward as they include themselves in a collective of support, understanding, and healing.

They deserve nothing less than their compassion and unwavering support in navigating the intricate emotional terrains they inhabit.