Therapy For Compassion Fatigue

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

Anger, irritability

Cynicism, sarcasm

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

Escape fantasies

Sadness, depression

Weight gain or loss

Somatic complaints

Sleep disturbances, nightmares

Reactivity, passive aggression

Racing thoughts, poor concentration

That which is to give light must endure burning.

victor frankl

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.

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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 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 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.

Begin Therapy for Compassion Fatigue in the Nashville area

If you live in the Nashville area and are ready to get help for compassion fatigue, we are here to help. To begin individual counseling for compassion fatigue or to be considered for our anxiety support group, follow these three steps:

1. Contact our counseling office or call 615-235-3508 to schedule a free 30 minute consultation

2. Begin therapy for compassion fatigue and move forward with your life!

3. Sign up for an Support Group for Compassion Fatigue.

A willow branch illustrating the growth Nashville residents can get from anxiety treatment for panic attacks at Willow Counseling. Willow Counseling also offers trauma therapy, treatment for depression, and help for compassion fatigue in Nashville.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if anxiety therapy is right for you.

Willow Leaf. Anxiety treatment with a therapist in Nashville can help you grow. Willow Counseling also offers trauma therapy, treatment for depression, and help for compassion fatigue in Nashville.

Begin individual therapy for compassion fatigue at Willow Counseling. Schedule an appointment to meet with one of our compassionate counselors.

Another photo of a willow leaf. Our Nashville therapists offer anxiety treatment for symptoms of anxiety. Willow Counseling also offers trauma therapy, treatment for depression, and help for compassion fatigue in Nashville.

Ready to stop walking this road alone? Sign up for an Outdoor Support Group for Anxiety.

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Other therapeutic services offered 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.