What is Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion fatigue is a combination of secondary traumatic stress & burnout
Secondary Traumatic Stress
Secondary traumatic stress is witnessing or gaining knowledge of pain or trauma. For instance, secondary trauma can happen from learning about the unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a loved one or other close associate like a colleague, client or patient. As an example, a nurse might experience secondary traumatic stress by seeing a patient's injuries from a violent crime. Or a therapist might experience secondary traumatic stress after hearing the story of a client's rape.
On the other hand, burnout happens when you feel emotionally exhausted and less fulfilled by your work than you used to. Furthermore, burnout may include a robotic, detached state of mind. Symptoms of burnout show up in interactions with your work environment when the real or perceived demands of your job outweigh the resources you have to complete your job.
Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue
Compassion fatigue impacts all areas of your life. Symptoms of compassion fatigue can be seen in the psychological, behavioral, emotional, relational and professional areas of your life. Some symptoms of compassion fatigue include -
Anxiety, fear, dread
Loss of meaning/purpose, feelings of apathy
Self-medication (substance use, Netflix, food, etc)
Relationship problems, isolation
Loss of productivity
Frequent complaining, loss of enjoyment
Weight gain or loss
Sleep disturbances, nightmares
Reactivity, passive aggression
Racing thoughts, poor concentration
That which is to give light must endure burning.
Neuroscience Behind Compassion Fatigue
It takes a strong person to do what you do - to take care of those in need, to witness the trauma of people, animals, and communities, to sit with the hurting in their pain. Unfortunately, it's that strength, compassion, and drive for excellence that sets you up to develop compassion fatigue.
Did you know that you don’t have to be a survivor to be traumatized? In other words, you don't have to actually experience trauma first-hand. You just have to witness it.
Professional or volunteer caregivers who witness pain on a regular basis all have a stimulus barrier. Time differs on when but we eventually all become symptomatic.
It’s not a matter of personal strength or weakness but rather a developmental phenomenon. The mirror neurons of empathy combined with the visualization of a client or patient’s experiences activates our sympathetic nervous system. Chronic activation will result in secondary traumatic stress.
How to Begin Therapy for Compassion Fatigue in Nashville
Struggling with compassion fatigue shouldn’t keep you from finding joy and fulfillment in your life. Through counseling, the weight of burnout and secondary traumatic stress can be lifted. Our caring therapists are compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction experts that can help you cope with the symptoms of compassion fatigue. If you are ready to be purposeful about your health and self care, begin by scheduling a consultation to determine if individual and/or group therapy is the best fit for you. It is possible to get back to a place where you find joy and fulfillment in your work. You care for others, now let Willow Counseling help you care for yourself.
Compassion Fatigue Resilience Groups
No matter what you do or bring, your workplace is always going to demand more of you. Learn resiliency skills in a small group setting so you can work through burnout and secondary traumatic stress, be healthy, and continue to live life to the fullest while juggling the high demands of your job.
Join a Compassion Fatigue Resiliency group and love your career again. Sign up by calling Willow Counseling at 615-235-3508 or emailing the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit our Group Therapy page.
Individual Therapy for Compassion Fatigue
Individual therapy for compassion fatigue incorporates both recovery and rebuilding with research-backed and individualized resiliency skills. Through compassion fatigue counseling, you'll be able to find joy and meaning in your career and professional life again.
Start your recovery now by calling Willow Counseling at 615-235-3508 or emailing the office at email@example.com. You can also schedule a Therapy Intake with any of our therapists using the Schedule Now button below.
Learn More About Compassion Fatigue
Are you in a helping profession and wondering if you could benefit from our services? Take the Professional Quality of Life assessment (The Pro-QOL 5 Self Score) and review on your own or with a therapist your scores on Compassion Satisfaction, Burnout, and Secondary Traumatic Stress to see if there are any indications you could be suffering from compassion fatigue.
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Other Therapeutic Services at Willow Counseling
Compassion fatigue can feel overwhelming, but counseling can help with this and other tough issues! Skilled therapists at our Nashville, TN counseling office offer a variety of therapeutic services to help you improve your mental health and be the best version of yourself. For instance, our therapists offer treatment for trauma using EMDR , therapy for anxiety, and group counseling services for both anxiety and compassion fatigue. You don't have to stay stuck. If you are ready to find healing and live in the Nashville area, our therapists can help. Through counseling, you can be rooted, strong and free from the things that hold you back.