Cultivating Empathy: Inspiring Health Professionals to Communicate More Effectively (Revised Edition)

The Trauma & Emotional Stress Associated with Caregiving: The Importance of Fostering Resiliency

Author(s): Kathleen Stephany

Pp: 169-196 (28)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815036480122010012

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


There is a cost to caring for others and being empathetic. That is why
Chapter Eight of this book specifically explores the trauma and emotional stress
associated with being a caregiver and the importance of fostering resiliency. The
following trauma related conditions, their causes and symptoms are reviewed: posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), secondary traumatic stress (STS) and vicarious
traumatization. Compassion fatigue and burnout are two additional conditions that are
not linked to trauma but are associated with either exposure to human suffering or
work-related stress and result in emotional exhaustion. Specific ways to treat the
various forms of caregiver trauma and emotional stress are included in the discussion.
Facilitating caregiver resiliency is determined to be important in preventing
compassion fatigue, and the following strategies are highly recommended: self-care,
cultivating exquisite empathy, fostering compassion satisfaction, and embracing
strategies that promote joy in work. Note that although they are somewhat different,
many of these methods do overlap in some ways. In the Case in Point, an emergency
room nurse shared her story of how she developed compassion fatigue after being
confronted with ongoing suffering. In closing, caregivers are encouraged to develop a
personal wellness plan. In an exercise at the end of the Chapter, caregivers are
encouraged to develop a personal wellness plan.

Keywords: Burnout, Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Cognitive processing therapy (CPT), Cognitive therapy (CT), Compassion fatigue, Compassion satisfaction, Critical incident debriefing, Exquisite empathy, Informal debriefing, Joy in work, Metta, Mindfulness meditation, Morally silenced, Personal protective equipment (PPE), Personal wellness plan, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Prolonged exposure therapy (PE), Psychological personnel protective equipment (PPPE), Resiliency, Secondary traumatic stress (STS), Self-care, Self-empathy, Self-knowledge, Stressors, Trauma, Traumatic stress, Vicarious traumatization.

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