Compassion Fatigue: When Helpers Get Tired of Helping

When the helpers get tired
of helping
Presented by:
Michelle Wilkinson, MA, LPC-S
[email protected]
 Definition
of Compassion Fatigue
 Identify the Signs and Symptoms
 Tools to recovery
 Observing the signs in self and others
 Prevention
 Definition:
World English Dictionary
compassion fatigue — n the inability to react
sympathetically to a crisis, disaster, etc,
because of overexposure to previous crises,
disasters, etc
 Compassion
Fatigue was first introduced by
Carla Joinson in 1992, as a way to describe
burnout among nurses
 Maslach and her colleague Jackson first
identified the construct "burnout" in the
1970s,the term was coined by Herbert
Freudenberger in1974
 McCann and Pearlman use the term Vicarious
Traumatization in 1990
 Empathy
 Burnout
 Vicarious
 Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder
 Just
plain sick ‘N’ tired
 76%
of 2,500 clergy members survey were
overweight or obese compared with 60% in
general population
 More than 60% of helping professionals have
a trauma history of their own—we enter the
field to make a difference, to give back, and
share from our own life experiences
 59% of mental health professionals were
willing to seek help vs 15% of law
 Burnout---is
a term that describes low job
satisfaction, feeling powerless,
overwhelmed, depleted and frustrated by
their work environment
 Many persons in ‘non-helping’ jobs may
experience burnout, who are not particularly
in a traumatic environment
 Employees
who considered most of their days
to be quite a bit or extremely stressful were
over three times more likely to suffer a
major depressive episode, compared with
those who reported low levels of general
 Chronic Compassion Fatigue can lead to
depression, anxiety, addiction, mental and
physical illnesses if left unchecked
 Vicarious
Traumatization, a termed coined by
Laurie Ann Pearlman and Karen Saakvitne, is
used to describe the profound shift that
workers experience in their world view when
they work with clients who have experienced
 Helpers notice that the way they think about
clients and the world, is somehow changed
by the cumulative process of repeated
 Primary
Trauma refers to trauma that is
happening to you, either from your personal
life or even in the line of duty
 Secondary Trauma is the exposure to trauma
via retelling of stories by client or co-worker,
reading case files, hearing court testimonies
or watching disturbing news footage
Sleep Disturbance
Avoidance of circumstances
Self-doubt of ability to help
Secretly wishing clients don’t show up!
Resentments with co-workers
Missing meetings or peer supersvions
This is not an exhaustive list…………
 “My
biggest challenge as a director is that I
am trying to do the work of two people.
When I moved into this position, I replaced a
full-time counselor. I also replaced one of
the pastors who had functions as part-time
overseer for the counseling center. My
position as director should be a full-time
position, it is impossible for me to
successfully handle the responsibilities of
both positions and to them both well”
 Director of a women’s counseling center
 Compassion
fatigue has been described as
“the cost of caring” for others in emotional
 Compassion fatigue is an occupational hazard
 Compassion Fatigue is a disorder that affects
those who do their work well
 Caring for others is both my calling and my
cross to bear
Decline in
and Job
Thoughts of
Feelings of
Anxiety, and
Low self-esteem and lack
of confidence
Self Test
Self Care
•Are you in the danger
•Professional Quality of
Life test
•Compassion Self-Test
•Limiting exposure
•Setting Boundaries
•Be confident
•Take your own advice!
 Prevention
is ideal, but may not be realistic
 Know your own patterns
 Be confident, you got this!
 Find the ‘off switch’ in your head, and by all
means shut it down when you leave the
 Be human, respect your emotional limits
 Their emergency is not necessarily your
 Give yourself some grace!
 Community
and Professional resources
 Compassion Fatigue Awareness
Project/Healthy Caregiving, LLC
The Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project
( promotes an
awareness and understanding of Compassion
Fatigue and its effect on caregivers.
 Beth Hudnall Stamm ProQOL Institute
 The Green Cross
 Who’s
job is it to help protect the helpers?
 Create
an atmosphere of peace
 Surround yourself with encouragement
 Regain your smile
 Notice a Sunrise or Sunset
 Be Still
 Journal
 Take a “Mental Break” Day!
Be a client
 As
counselors and caring professionals we
give of our time, our talent and our treasure.
 You can’t give all of your treasure away
 Self-care is a lifelong journey and a
consciously chosen lifestyle.
 Save some good things for yourself
 “there is no such thing as a normal life, just
life”—Wyatt Erp
 Keep living, giving, and caring!
American Psychological Association (APA):
compassion fatigue. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary
- Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved
January 23, 2013, from website:
The Compassion Fatigue Project
Copyright 2008-2013.
© January 2013 Counseling Today | “Who’s taking
care of Superman?” Powered by WordPress .
Definition: Vicarious Traumatization—Laurie Ann
Pearlman and Karen Saakvitne
Ferguson, S. (2007)Clergy compassion fatigue. Family
Therapy Mag. Mar-April issue
The Compassion Fatigue Workbook: Creative tools for
transforming compassion fatigue and vicarious

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