It takes a special person with a great deal of compassion and heart to be in any of the helping professions. Here I’m talking about (although not limited to) social workers, therapists, nurses, doctors, caregivers, first aid and crisis responders, etc. Being a helping professional can be incredibly rewarding, while at the same time, emotionally taxing which can cause burnout.
Burnout is characterized by three essential features: “emotional exhaustion, depersonalizations (general feeling of detachment, either personal or with reality), and feelings of ineffectiveness.”
Those who directly deal with responding to trauma or healing trauma, can also experience a state that is called Compassion Fatigue due to secondary or vicarious trauma. Compassion fatigue – is “a state of tension and preoccupation with traumatized patients by re-experiencing the traumatic events, avoidance/numbing… And persistent arousal associated with the patient.
Symptoms of burnout and compassion fatigue can include (and not limited to):
Contributing factors associated with chronic burnout and compassion fatigue:
Therapy can help you process the feelings that come up from being the holders of hope for your clients.
A common symptom of working with people in challenging situations is not even having the words to express what it is we’re feeling. And put simply, emotions can be contagious.
Helping professionals are highly at risk of feeling what others feel. In part, it’s what draws us to the profession. It’s also what can put us at such high risk for burnout.
You can take a self-test here to see where your compassion fatigue and burnout measures.
I have experience with being a direct mental health service provider for a large government mental health system and can relate to the increasing demands of such a highly regarded and utilized system of care. I also have experience with providing clinical supervision to case managers, therapists, social workers and psychologists and am passionate about addressing their burnout and compassion fatigue.
Together we can assess your level of burnout and/or compassion fatigue and come up with a personalized self-care plan, assertiveness practice and if necessary, healing of your own traumatic experiences.
I have also created a Burnout Workbook for my clients to complement their sessions.
You can start this journey by calling me at (323) 351-1741 for an appointment.
If you’re looking for self-study, Trauma Stewardship is highly recommended to help you understand burnout and compassion fatigue for helping professionals.