Compassion Fatigue – An occupational hazzard?

March 2012

Have you lost your joie de vive? Do you find yourself getting drained listening to others’ crisis &
personal issues? Yes I know sometimes life is tough & we have our own issues to deal with too!   As a line manager do you find your internal empathy is running a bit dry? Are you sufficiently emotionally robust to handle co-workers’ grief, traumas, life-dramas, over-sensitivities, anger outbursts etc?  Maybe you are suffering from compassion fatigue otherwise known as ‘vicarious traumatisation‘.

Here’s a handy fact sheet on compassion fatigue 

Some of the symptoms of comapssion fatigue:

Becoming serious, morose, cynical, deepened sadness, increased sensitivity, thinking too much about other’s problems, soul sadness, irritability & low tolerance, intrusive dreams, sleepless nights, lethargy, taking work problems home, kicking the dog, shouting at the children……

Understanding why….

In the therapeutic world we attend supervision sessions to make sure we are working ethically.
However, what can often get unnoticed in the exploration of client issues, is sufficient self-care. I have found from working with many middle-managers in EAP counselling & critical incident debriefing sessions, that the boundaries can often get blurred in a professional line-management type relationships leading to an emotional overload. Having a heart-to-heart discussion is certainly more
commendable rather than just monitoring KPI’s & work targets. However, many managers just don’t know how to support their staff emotionally, without getting submerged, drowning in others’issues! Or having to shut down emotionally & be non-connected, focused on work issues.

COMPASSION FATIGUE – WHAT TO DO

  • Stay with a focus on positive strengths, rather than over-sympathising,
  • Try not to problem-solve, encourage self-responsibility & positive change
  • Monitor your own feelings – be aware if you start carrying strong feelings like anger, hate or despair for your co-worker.
  • Take some time out for yourself – get things into perspective, what is your feeling, levels of responsibility, moral & ethical dilemmas
  • Seek support from a professional coach, mentor, supervisor (in confidence)
  • Seek spiritual renewal often (e.g. commune with nature)

But most of all, be compassionate to yourself!

 

Pamela Harland is a Wellbeing Consultant & Group facilitator, UK Counselling Psychologist specialising in Workplace Wellbeing. Pamela is passionate about bringing Positive Psychology techniques to workplaces, teams and individuals to create a Spirit of Wellbeing Culture.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *