Pastoral Care Workers, Chaplains, Counselors, Medical Staff, Social Workers and Inner Healing Practitioners, did you know Compassion Fatigue is a very real thing?
Mother Teresa wrote in her plan to her superiors that it was MANDATORY for her nuns to take an entire year off from their duties every 4-5 years to allow them to heal from the effects of their care-giving work.
“We have not been directly exposed to the trauma scene, but we hear the story told with such intensity, or we hear similar stories so often, or we have the gift and curse of extreme empathy and we suffer. We feel the feelings of our clients. We experience their fears. We dream their dreams. Eventually, we lose a certain spark of optimism, humour and hope. We tire. We aren’t sick, but we aren’t ourselves.”
– C. Figley, 1995 Compassion Fatigue
“Compassion Fatigue also called “vicarious traumatization” or secondary traumatization (Figley, 1995). The emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. It differs from burn-out but can co-exist. Compassion Fatigue can occur due to exposure to one case or can be due to a “cumulative” level of trauma.”
It’s not the same as burn-out. “Compassion fatigue has a more rapid onset while burnout emerges over time. Compassion Fatigue has a faster recovery (less severe, if recognized and managed early).”
There are many books, websites and resources on the topic. Do yourself a favour. Learn about it, especially if, like me you’re highly empathetic (and HSP). Then, make some healthy self-management and self-care decisions. (There’s a great assessment tools: //www.proqol.org/)
If world-changers like Mother Teresa made room for it, shouldn’t you?
Pulling aside from healing work is not a crime for Christians.
‘As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.’ Luke 5:16 MSG
P.S. There is some work I’ve been doing around Highly Sensitive Persons who are more susceptible to compassion fatigue. It’s here//thehighlysensitiveguy.com/