This essay describes the experiences faculty may encounter when teaching tough topics. When professionals are in the position as the individual who cares for, hears about, or witnesses the trauma and suffering of others, they might themselves be at risk for experiencing vicarious stress, or secondary trauma. If ongoing and untreated, this traumatic stress can morph into compassion fatigue, which can impede professional success and contribute to burnout. This essay reflects on the experiences of teaching the Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication where students openly shared course-related personal experiences. We reflect on how to successfully manage the delicate climate of the Dark Side classroom for optimal discussion and application of sometimes personal, and oftentimes difficult, course content. The pedagogical strategies reflected in this essay can be adopted for use in other courses with similar potential for student disclosure.



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