What is compassion fatigue?
Compassion fatigue has been described as the “cost of caring” for others in emotional pain (Figley, 1982).
The work of “helping” requires open hearts and minds to those that they are working with or caring for – unfortunately, this very process of empathy is what makes helpers vulnerable to being profoundly affected and even possibly damaged by their work.
Compassion fatigue is not a disorder, it’s not something that you wake up one day and discover that you have it. It is gradual profound emotional and physical exhaustion. Symptoms move up and down a continuum and may take months, even years to develop. It is a normal, typical consequence to chronic stress and extreme empathic engagement. Think of it as a smouldering fire that eats away at your contentment, happiness and how you once saw the world, a gradual erosion of empathy, hope and compassion.
Compassionate Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma and Burn Out are complementary, yet different from one another.
Vicarious Trauma is being constantly exposed to others trauma /distress and is the transformation that takes place, that changes your fundamental belief system, eventually their stories become a part of you.
Burn Out is the physical and emotional exhaustion that workers can experience when they have low job satisfaction, powerless, and overwhelmed but it does not necessarily mean that our view of how we see the world has changed however It can be fairly easily resolved by changing jobs, this is not the case for CF or VT.
What people have to say
National Collective of Womens Refuge
Thank you for the compassion fatigue training you provided to our participants at our Growth Strategy Hui. Your messages resonated with our wahine. The information you shared with us were insightful and brought to the forefront the importance of looking after ourselves emotionally, spiritually and physically, with simple techniques to help.
Our teams feel that your training will turn out to be one of our most talked about sessions this year – we have had some pretty fantastic sessions in past hui. Thank you for sharing your messages, your energy and your passion. You understood our needs and it was a pleasure working with you. You were flexible and informal yet always professional.
-Strategic Relationship Manager
Dr Paul House
Thank you for the informative training that you presented. We are talking about the issues and using techniques you shared, and I am confident that they are going to become part of our ongoing workplace culture and practice. Working in an emotionally draining sector we too readily normalise the impact that family stories and stressors have on us, so the training was a timely reminder to each of us.