FD logo

Psychological Support for Content Moderators

Psychological support services for content moderators, intelligence analysts, and online researchers – ‘protecting the protectors’.

At FD Consultants we are not only ‘caring for the carers’, but we are also ‘protecting the protectors’. Over the last couple of years, we have received many requests for psychological support services for content moderators, intelligence analysts, and online researchers, with the sole aim of making the web a safer place for the general user. From identifying acts of violence, sexual exploitation, terrorist activity, and violent extremist content, to eradicating this information, and protecting the civilian population from accessing disturbing material. The good news is that these organisations are recognising that their staff are at risk of suffering from vicarious trauma due to the exposure to traumatic material. The high-profile legal case in 2020, resulting in Facebook paying millions in compensations to staff suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) due to exposure to traumatic material online (Paul, K. 2020), has steered many of these companies to reach out for our specialist trauma support. In addition to this highly influencing case, in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association amended its guidelines on PTSD to recognise that immersive work with traumatic imagery is a specific risk factor for journalists, police officers and others absorbing such images on a regular basis in their jobs, therefore adding vicarious trauma to its guidelines.

At FD Consultants, a global psychological health consultancy, we have been supporting the humanitarian sector, emergency first responders and mental health charities for many years. Our aim is to offer best practice, high-quality trauma specialist psychological support. We support humanitarian aid workers, firefighters, paramedics, prison officers, medical practitioners, police, and therapists. With organisations now also identifying staff at risk whose work exposes them to traumatic material indirectly, we have begun supporting journalists, security personnel, content moderators, and researchers of war crimes or other horrific circumstances.

Students are leaving university with qualifications in counter terrorism and cyber security, not courses that were available when I was at university! Worryingly these courses do not include modules on mental health and trauma. I’ve heard the work described as ‘sexy’, but in reality, it is quite the contrary, where often, individuals, are working from home (sometimes from their bedrooms), trailing through hefty trauma content. This exposure impacts their perceptions, emotions, and behaviour, and can cause significant psychological distress.

‘While moderation work might be expected to be unpleasant, there is recognition today that repeated, prolonged exposure to specific content, coupled with limited workplace support, can significantly impair the psychological well-being of human moderators’. (Steiger et al, 2021)

Services offered for employers of content moderators

At FD Consultants we help organisations develop duty of care policies to support staff wellbeing. This support doesn’t just involve signposting to psychological services, but a change in working practices to support the level of exposure to trauma, and imbedding trauma management programmes.

As a network of trauma specialist therapists, we have experienced staff suffering from vicarious trauma, who without receiving the appropriate help, can go onto to suffer from PTSD or burnout (Dunkley, F. 2018). Ideally, we want to support individuals sooner rather than later as coping strategies become more complex, and people can turn to unhealthy approaches, such as alcohol, over-working, or self-harming behaviours. How someone is supported directly after a traumatic event, or during exposure to traumatic material is vital to an individual’s recovery and level of resilience.

This month we will be exploring how organisations can take care of staff who are indirectly exposed to traumatic material. We will post blogs sharing our recommendations on managing the exposure to traumatic content, the impact of vicarious trauma, and guidelines for organisations in how best to take of their staff.


Fiona Dunkley, MBACP (Snr. Accred.) UKRCP. ESTSS. EMDR.
Founder FD Consultants – Psychosocial Support & Trauma Specialist Services


  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
  • Dunkley, F. (2018). Psychosocial Support for humanitarian aid workers: A Roadmap of Trauma and Critical Incident Care, Routledge.
  • Paul, K. (2020). Facebook to pay $52m for failing to protect moderators from ‘horrors’ of graphic content. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/may/12/facebook-settlement-mental-health-moderators
  • Steiger, Bharucha, Venkatagiri, Riedl, and Lease (2021), CHI ’21, May 8–13, 2021, Yokohama, Japan.


Work with FD Consultants

FD Consultants is here to help any organisation looking to offer their staff with effective, empathetic, and collaborative psychological support. We are a source of hope and strength when it feels like you haven’t got any left. Reach out to our team of specialists today to discuss the situation you or your workplace is facing, and let us find a proven, evidence-based solution to navigate you through this challenging period.

Scroll to Top