Have you ever gone through periods of time where you found yourself experiencing increasing irritability, exhaustion, and dissatisfaction with your work? There are times where I have experienced these and other symptoms and they have appeared to come out of nowhere. These symptoms and others are likely warning signs on Compassion Fatigue.
The definition of compassion fatigue is: "Indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals." Simply stated, a person's ability to empathize becomes depleted because of their frequent use of empathy.
As a counselor, I spend many long days listening to people's stories that are sometimes heartbreaking, and can only help them so much. I show up the next day for more of the same. Empathy may be the greatest tool that a counselor has, but if not taken care of, this tool can wear out over time and become less effective. Having compassion fatigue doesn't make someone a bad counselor, it makes them human.
How does someone avoid or recover from compassion fatigue? The answer is very simple: Self care (Want to learn more about self care?) Make sure to take a vacation, engage in fun activities, spend time with people that you care about. It could also be helpful to speak with a counselor or therapist to help process some of the feelings that you experience as a result of your work. I have spent years working with specialized populations that often are dealing with exceptionally difficult circumstances that are challenging for me as a courser to hear about.
If you feel like you are experiencing compassion fatigue and aren't sure of the next steps to take, contact us. We can help. We have been there before and are happy to help.