How to deal with Compassion Fatigue as a care giver/ therapist

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 Compassion fatigue, also known as second-hand shock and secondary stress reaction, describes a type of stress that results from helping or wanting to help those who are traumatized or under significant emotional duress. Unlike burnout, compassion fatigue is highly treatable and may be less predictable. The onset of compassion fatigue can be sudden, whereas burnout usually emerges over time.

Compassionate Fatigue

Because therapists are trained to utilize compassion and empathy for therapy to be effective, they are particularly vulnerable to emotional stress and compassion fatigue.

For therapists, compassion fatigue can have ethical and legal implications if left untreated, especially if they are providing therapeutic services that are not benefiting those under their care in therapy.

Common symptoms of compassion fatigue include chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, irritability, difficulty sleeping, headaches and poor job satisfaction.

How to deal with compassion fatigue as a caregiver or therapist?

-Practicing self-awareness and self-monitoring to recognize changes in behavior, work, and life outside of work is the first step to preventing compassion fatigue.

-Developing either informal or formal supervisory and mentor relationships within your work environment can also help you spot when you are being affected by compassion fatigue.

– Reducing stressful workloads.

– Taking regular vacations.

– Meditation.

– Journaling.

– Seeking personal therapy to process work problems.

– Regular exercise.

– Talking about feelings with a trusted person and/or a mental health professional.

– Learning more about compassion fatigue and how it affects people.

– Developing a healthy diet.

– Getting restful sleep.

– Developing hobbies different from work.

– Developing positive coping strategies.

– Reaching out to support groups and networks.


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Prepared by:

Bethwel Kiptum

Hospital Psychologist

Chiromo Hospital Group

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