Understanding Compassion Fatigue
Pp. 147-166 (20)
Although empathy is a crucial component in a helper’s capacity to
communicate effectively with those under their care, there can be negative
consequences associated with over identification with the suffering of others. For
example, compassion fatigue can occur, where the caregiver stops being empathetic.
Compassion fatigue was the focus of chapter seven. The difference between burnout
and compassion fatigue was explained. The people who are at risk of developing
burnout or compassion fatigue were identified, followed by an overview of the warning
signs, and how to deal with these problems when they do occur. Strategies that may be
helpful in preventing compassion fatigue were presented such as, critical incident and
informal debriefing, exquisite empathy, and self-care. In the case in point, an
emergency room nurse shared her story of how she developed compassion fatigue after
being confronted with on-going suffering. In closing, caregivers were encouraged to
develop a personal wellness plan.
Burnout, compassion fatigue, critical incident debriefing, empathy,
exquisite empathy, informal debriefing, personal wellness plan, self-care.
Full Time Nurse Educator in the Faculty of Health Sciences Douglas College, BC Canada Canada.