Secondary traumatic stress can result from the empathy we share
You may not be able to name the emotion, but many surely feel it. You may say you’ve “run out of gas ” or your “cup is empty.” When you care-give for a sustained period, empathizing with the distress of a patient or loved one, it’s common to experience Compassion Fatigue.
As described by renown psychologist Carl Rogers, empathy is a “way of being” for those who help others. By entering the private world of the person they are helping caregivers may experience empathetic stress. Clinicians, in particular, might seek to detach themselves from this stress, which could otherwise cause burnout and emotional exhaustion.
Interventions to prevent Compassion Fatigue are described by Dr. Peter Huggard at the University of Auckland, NZ, as:
- Striking an appropriate work-life balance
- Identifying and making sense of disrupted schemas
- Personal psychotherapy
- Activities that are healing, including spiritual activities
- Engaging a senior colleague to discuss patient care
- Having a realistic tolerance of failure
- Maintaining professional networks
- Fostering a culture of respect in the workplace
Learn the signs of Compassion Fatigue and steps you can take to relieve it, transform compassion fatigue into compassion satisfaction and read a study about “caring for the carers” on your path to mend and strengthen your emotional reserves.