Winnie's Blog

Compassion Fatigue ~ Part One

You used to love your job.

All your life you wanted to have a "helping? profession, doing something noble that serves others and makes the world a better place. Now you?re tired, impatient even cynical about your work and you?re wondering what happened to your compassion.

If this is what you?re feeling, you might be experiencing "Compassion Fatigue?. Dr. C.R. Figley, author of Compassion Fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized, described Compassion Fatigue as "the cost of caring? for others in emotional and physical pain. Whether you work in health care, policing, social services, ministerial professions or other caring fields, constantly pouring care into the lives of others can take a toll on your health and well-being.

Compassion Fatigue Specialist, Francoise Mathieu writes, "It is marked by increased cynicism at work, a loss of enjoyment in our career, and eventually can transform into depression, secondary traumatic stress and stress-related illnesses. The most insidious aspect of compassion fatigue is that it attacks the very core of what brought us into this work: our empathy and compassion for others.?

(The following symptoms are taken from Cameron and Mathieu Consulting Conferences "Running on Empty: Compassion Fatigue in Health Professionals?)

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?


?Reduced ability to feel sympathy and empathy

?Anger and irritability

?Increased use of alcohol and drugs

?Dread of working with certain clients/patients

?Diminished sense of enjoyment of career

?Disruption to world view, Heightened anxiety or irrational fears

?Intrusive imagery or dissociation

?Hypersensitivity or Insensitivity to emotional material

?Difficulty separating work life from personal life

?Absenteeism ? missing work, taking many sick days

?Impaired Ability to make decisions and care for clients/patients

?Problems with intimacy and in personal relationships

The good news is there are solutions. Find out more about Compassion Fatigue by visiting: www.compassionfatigue.caor by taking a self-test at

If you?d like to talk to someone personally about the Compassion Fatigue you may be experiencing, feel free to contact me. The next blog post will offer some things that can be done to prevent it. Stay tuned and be encouraged.

By: Sharon Osvald in collaboration with Winnie Visser

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Principles for Real Living:

  1. I am responsible for my own attitude
  2. My attitude affects my actions
  3. I can not change others, but I can influence others
  4. My emotions do not control my actions
  5. Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I'm a failure
  6. Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world

Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman, Northfield Publishing, Chicago 1998, 2008