compassion fatigue. how do you do this work? learning objectives the participant will be able to:...

Compassion Fatigue

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Compassion Fatigue

How do you do this work?

Learning Objectives

• The participant will be able to:• Understand the concepts of

compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.• Recognize the signs and symptoms of

compassion fatigue.• Appreciate the importance of checking

in on oneself and colleagues to assess for compassion fatigue.

Compassion Fatigue

• Compassion Fatigue: a physical, emotional and spiritual fatigue or exhaustion that takes over a person and causes decline in his/her ability to experience joy or to feel and care for others. (Figley, 1995; Friedman, 2002)• Also referred to as secondary trauma,

vicarious trauma and burnout.

Compassion Fatigue

• Prolonged occurrence of the natural behaviors and emotions that arise from knowing about a traumatizing event experienced by another.

• a one-way street in which individuals are giving out a great deal of energy and compassion to others over a period of time, yet aren’t able to get enough personal support to reassure themselves that the world is a hopeful place.

Compassion Fatigue: Signs & Symptoms

• Biological

• Psychological

• Social

Compassion Fatigue: Biological Signs & Symptoms

• Increased use of drugs and alcohol • Sweating, Rapid breathing • Increased blood sugar levels • Increased illnesses • Hypertension/high blood pressure• Gastrointestinal complaints• Brittle nails, dull hair, hot flashes

Compassion Fatigue: Biological Signs & Symptoms

• Weight changes: over- or under-eating

• Migraine headaches • Fatigue/chronically tired • Cracked teeth/grinding teeth • Panic attacks • Physical appearance change• Sleep Disturbances

Compassion Fatigue: Psychological Signs &


• Feelings of dread • Anguished “survivor” guilt • Feelings of having given up • Feelings of evilness and impending

doom • Anger, less ability to feel joy • Increased irritability• Horror, inescapable shock

Compassion Fatigue: Psychological Signs &


• Decreased concentration/unable to focus

• Depression, sleep disturbances • Low self-esteem, exhaustion • Crying for no apparent reason • Apathy or use of dark humor• Poor impulse control• Relapse to addictions

Compassion Fatigue: Social Signs & Symptoms

• Terrorization and elimination • Burnout, Chronic lateness • Workaholism• Inability to maintain balance and

objectivity • Blaming, Cast out • Learned-helplessness

Compassion Fatigue: Social Signs & Symptoms

• Vulnerability • Isolation • Stuck in negativity, Cynical • Divorce/interpersonal problems • Lack of trusting people• Withdrawal from activities • Promiscuity

Compassion Fatigue: Prevention

• Maintain balance between personal life and work• Activities, ways to relax, getting enough sleep• Strong relationships with family/friends

• Organizational culture• Should allow us to feel comfortable to admit we need help• Monitor caseload• Working on a team: having colleagues to talk with

• Education on compassion fatigue helps us recognize the signs early in ourselves and our colleagues

Compassion Fatigue: Treatment

• If you are experiencing the symptoms and you are deprived of sleep, take a day off, rest, and make sure to eat normally.

• Consider meeting for a few sessions with a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma.


• Protecting Children and Young People: The Responsibility of All Doctors. General Medical Council, United Kingdom: 2012. available at:

• Osofsky, J.D., Putnam, F.W., Lederman, C.S. (2008). How to maintain emotional health when working with trauma. Juvenile and Family Court Journal. 59, 4: 91-102.


• A complete list studies that demonstrate the efficacy of Children’s Advocacy Centers is available from the National Children’s Advocacy Center: