As compassion fatigue can result from working closely with those who are suffering, it would be helpful for our clients who are in care-giving roles, both formally and informally, to have an understanding of what it is, how to recognise it in yourself and others, and what you can do about it.
What is Compassion Fatigue?
Broadly speaking, compassion fatigue is a condition that can include emotional, physical, and spiritual distress in those providing care to another, causing a decline in their ability to experience joy or to feel and care for others. As opposed to critical incident stress, which is being traumatised by something you actually experience or see, compassion fatigue is absorbing the trauma through the eyes and ears of others, resulting in very real emotional and physical symptoms in the care-giver themself. This is why compassion fatigue is often also known as the ‘cost of caring’ and 'a hazard of the helping professions’.
How to recognise it
The most critical need initially is for carers to be aware of the warning signs and recognise that they may be experiencing symptoms. These can include:
What you can do about it
There are many hands-on things we can do to mitigate the feelings and symptoms of compassion fatigue. Awareness is the first step to taking control.
“It's not the load that breaks us down, it's the way we carry it.”
Help is at hand
If you are concerned that you or anyone in your team is experiencing compassion fatigue and you’re unsure how to handle it, seek professional support.
EAPworks’ experienced practitioners provide practical advice and training on how to deal with workplace issues such as this. For individuals to talk things through with one of our counsellors, head to our website to Book an Appointment or phone 0800 735 343. To discuss training options for groups, give us a call on 0800 735 343 or drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be in touch.