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Protecting the Career Practitioner from Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

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Presentation on theme: "Protecting the Career Practitioner from Compassion Fatigue and Burnout"— Presentation transcript:

1 Protecting the Career Practitioner from Compassion Fatigue and Burnout
Wellness Works Protecting the Career Practitioner from Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

2 Based on the work of Charles Figler and Francoise Mathieu
The compassion Fatigue workbook Webinar : Walking the Walk

3 Are compassion fatigue and burnout inevitable consequences of our work?

4 “The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet. This sort of denial is no small matter. The way we deal with loss shapes our capacity to be present to life more than anything else. The way we protect ourselves form loss may be the way in which we distance ourselves from life. We burn not because we don’t care but because we don’t grieve. We burn out because we’ve allowed our hearts to become so filled with loss that we have no room left to care. Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom, 1996

5 Our Caring Profession THE GOOD Helping people meet goals
Matching the seeker to the job Knowing people change their lives for the better Honouring their trust Motivating with hope Making a difference for my community Meeting the needs of our employers Working for our future Helping people get the tools they need to move forward THE BAD Administration and record keeping Funders’ data bases Government bureaucracy, politics Lack of control over budgets Having to meet outcomes that don’t match the needs of the folks Never having enough time Can’t meet all the needs Little PD Few places to refer for further help, mental health, financial, literacy Internet job search process Employers’ Hiring practices

6 The Ugly Compassion Fatigue Burnout
Related to caring about, taking care of, or exposure to trauma victims and others in need Created by caring about the suffering of others Try to continue to give of themselves and feel as though they have failed at their profession Gradual erosion of all the things that keep us connected to others in our caregiver role: empathy, our hope, and our compassion, for others and ourselves Can result from any type of stress in any kind of setting Low job satisfaction from feeling powerless and overwhelmed at work Our view of the world has not been damaged changed in a negative way Experience emotional withdrawal and diminished empathy Still retain the ability to feel compassion for others Makes us more vulnerable to CF

7 Compassion Fatigue is:
The profound emotional and physical erosion that takes place when helpers are unable to refuel and regenerate A secondary traumatic stress disorder A set of symptoms, not a disease Can lead to a wide range of destructive or unproductive behaviors

8 When I have CF I am: Over-reactive Unprofessional
Having a saviour complex Overly invested in the outcomes and people Angry, unable to focus, no patience for my clients or family members A ‘cranky fusspot’ ‘No matter how much I do at work, I can’t do enough to really make a difference’.

9 Sound Familiar? Bottled up emotions Impulse to rescue anyone in need
Isolated from others Sadness, apathy Often feel the need to voice excessive complaints about co workers and or management, increasing bitterness about work Violate client boundaries, lack of respect of clients Intense psychological distress at exposure to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event

10 Symptoms, continued Lack of interest in self – care practices
Reoccurring nightmares/flashbacks Persistent physical ailments such as allergies, colds, gastrointestinal problems Lateness Difficulty concentrating, mentally tired Forgetfulness Accident prone and error prone, judgment suffers Hyper vigilance and exaggerated startle response

11 What Causes Compassion Fatigue?
Placing the needs of others first Continual exposure to sad or traumatic stories or events Unresolved past trauma and pain Lack of healthy professional skills Lack of self awareness that limits your growth and potential

12 Causes - continued Giving care to others who are under stress
Giving care to others when you are burnt out Lack of healthy life coping skills Lack of personal boundaries Inability to communicate your own needs

13 The ‘Fatigued’ At Work:
Excessive amount of Worker’s Comp claims, stress leave High absenteeism Changes in co-workers’ relationships Inability for teams to work well together Staff challenges organizational rules and regulations Aggressive behaviours between co-workers and clients Inability of staff to complete assigned tasks

14 At Work - continued Lack of flexibility with other staff
Constant changes in organizational policies Rampant rumor and gossip Unhealthy competition between staff members Increasingly negative work environment Siege mentality

15 The Eventual Outcome? Mental health issues, depression, stress leave
Social supports break down Eventually in order to recover, you may have to leave the occupation completely!

16 Who Us? Really? Over 60% of Career Practitioners surveyed in NS are mental health consumers themselves – depression and anxiety Realities of our work – high paced, results oriented, negative economies, pressure and stress, little clout Clients’ personal histories increasingly ‘traumatic’ Labour market pressures could create a moral dilemma, hiring practices incomplete or unethical

17 Ways to Reduce Compassion Fatigue
Strong social support both at home and work Increased self awareness Good self care Better work/life balance Job satisfaction Rebalancing case load and workload reduction Limiting trauma inputs Accessing coaching, counseling, and good clinical supervision as needed Attending regular professional development and training

18 We Can defend Ourselves
Educate ourselves about CF , Burnout, and secondary trauma, vicarious trauma Increase our self awareness of our warning signs, our feelings of overwhelm and vicarious trauma before we get to full blown ‘fatigue’ Build strategies to de-brief upsetting events in a low impact way. Decrease the ‘sliming

19 Vicarious Trauma in our work?
Vicarious trauma – occurs when the stories we hear from our clients transfer onto us in a way where we too are traumatized by the images and details, even though we did not experience them ourselves. We then find it difficult to rid ourselves of the images and experience they have shared with us.

20 Low Impact Debriefing – setting boundaries
What kind of conversation is this? Case conference, case consultation, work lunch, soccer game, party? Is the listener aware that you are about to share graphic details? Able to control the flow of what you are about to share with them? If it is consultation or case conference has the listener been informed that it is a debriefing or are you sitting in their office chatting about your day Have you given fair warning? How much detail is too much? How much do we need to tell to be productive in our work?


22 We have choices .. Reduce our ‘trauma load’ on a daily basis
Become aware of media enhanced disaster ‘porn’, violent crime dramas. Even the Weather Network can have a negative cumulative impact on your already overloaded day Where do the stories we hear at work go at the end of the day?

23 Techniques “Helpers who bear witness to many stories of abuse and violence notice that their own beliefs about the world are altered and possibly damaged by being repeatedly exposed to traumatic material” Transforming the pain p.49

24 Healthy teams make us stronger
Build strong support networks at work, supportive teams, strategic alliances: No more Bitching, Moaning and Whining (BMW) - Gossip adds dramatically to the negativity load Commit to building your self esteem in healthy ways, not on the backs of others. (‘Nurses eat their young’)

25 Better managed case/work loads
Pace and size of the case load make a huge difference to work satisfaction Look for ways to manage this differently if possible Build ‘micro breaks’ into our schedules ( mindfulness meditation) if nothing else Work with Management to alter the work day in some way, part time , some other task one day a week

26 Are you in the Danger Zone?
Surveys and self tests canhelp you identify your current state of work and life satisfaction Many tools to capture your current level of positivity, happiness, your values, your curiosity, anxiety can be found in The Compassion Fatigue Workbook or at Authentic happiness .org

27 Learn about and commit to better self care.
Take baby steps to make big changes begin Put your health first Savour the positivity in your life, gratitude, curiosity, applications from Positive Psychology research Increase self compassion Reconnect with the satisfaction with your work

28 To Increase Personal Happiness
1. Work on positivity 2. Practice gratitude 2. ‘Three good things’ exercise 3. Use your strengths in novel ways 4. 15 minutes a day of doing nothing 5. Learn something new

29 Resources, Credits Francoise Mathieu The Compassion Fatigue Workbook
Webinar -Walking the walk , creating CF solutions Blog, YouTube videos, website Positivity -Barbara Frederickson Mindfulness meditation -Jon Kabat Zinn Patricia Smith


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