Caregiving : Professional Caregivers, Compassion Fatigue and Burnout
Posted by Chapster on Apr-25-2004 (4021 reads)

Chaplains in the Dallas area are trying to start an organization that will give the opportunity for fellowship and support. At our most recent meeting, we were privileged to hear Dr. Ken Bateman, professor of counseling at Amberton University, motivational speaker, and founder of New Directions Counseling in Richardson, Texas. His topic was stress and burnout.

As he talked, I realized anew the enormous cost that professional caregivers often pay for the work they do. In the course of his talk, he referred us to a test that helps caregivers assess their proclivity to burnout and compassion fatigue. It was not a personally gratifying assessment for me ( ). Methinks we have some work to do...

More to the point, though: He got us thinking about what we all know professionally, and deal with on a nearly daily basis with patients, clients, and families. But, many of us really don't do so well with these issues personally.

This article is a result of that lecture and highlights some of the information that Dr. Bateman pointed to in the course of his lecture. You will be directed to two places where you can take a more recent version of the test he gave us, as well as links that discuss Compassion Fatigue, burnout, stress, and Compassion Satisfaction.

What is Compassion Fatigue? One of the writers of the Compassion Fatigue Test (see link below), describes Compassion Fatigue as: Quote:

...a state of tension and preoccupation with the individual or cumulative trauma of clients as manifested in one or more ways including reexperiencing the traumatic event, avoidance/numbing of reminders of the event, and persistent arousal.


We encourage managers to read this article and the attached links and take steps to provide support to some of the Lone Rangers who provide so much support to others - and often have little idea where to turn for it themselves.

What steps to take? First, encourage the use of some of the instruments that we link to. Second, being aware of the signs of Compassion Fatigue. Third, taking concrete action that invites employees to address these issues. Some of those job related tools are here.

Tests that measure traumatic stress and secondary traumatic stress.

Compassion Fatigue Test

Article from The American Academy of Family Physicians

Introductory article by Dr. Charles Figley, Researcher at the Florida State University Traumatology Institute, and co-developer of some of these tests. - How Compassion Fatigue Can Overwhelm Charity Workers -- and What to Do About It

An FAQ from

And, not being ones to avoid humor, when it can help us take a more realistic look at ourselves, go here for some cartoons that address Compassion Fatigue.

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