Compassion fatigue, which is most commonly seen among health care professionals, describes a type of stress that results from helping or wanting to help those who are traumatized or under significant emotional distress. The onset of compassion fatigue can be sudden and it can be a precursor to other stressors. In today’s world, since the media plays an important role in broadcasting every tragedy instantly, compassion fatigue is no longer unique to certain professions. However, therapists are at a greater risk and are more vulnerable to emotional stress and compassion fatigue since they are trained to utilize compassion and empathy in order for therapy to be effective. Therapists may experience compassion fatigue when the stories and experiences of the people they meet in therapy start to affect their lives outside of work. Several factors that can put therapists at higher risk for developing compassion fatigue include:

  • Specializing in therapy that introduces them to extreme issues nearly every session.

  • Being physically threatened by a person under their therapeutic care.
  • A person under their care dying by suicide.

  • Providing therapeutic services to someone considered dangerous.

  • Working exclusively with people who experience depression and/or child abuse.
  • Specializing in treating death, grief, and bereavement.
  • Providing therapy for someone who has experienced the death of a child.

Compassion fatigue can take a physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional toll on people who experience it. Common symptoms of compassion fatigue include:

  • Chronic physical and emotional exhaustion

  • Feelings of inequity toward the therapeutic or caregiver relationship
  • Irritability

  • Feelings of self-contempt

  • Poor self-care

  • Isolating oneself

  • Feelings of hopelessness or powerlessness

  • Poor job satisfaction
  • Difficulty sleeping

It can be easy for therapists and caregivers to enter a cycle of blaming themselves for not having what it takes to do their jobs when the symptoms of compassion fatigue arise. Although less predictable, compassion fatigue is highly treatable. Instead of entering a cycle of self-doubt, it can be helpful to focus the energies on:

  • Talking about feelings with a trusted person and/or a mental health professional.
  • Learning more about compassion fatigue and how it affects people.

  • Making a commitment to regularly exercise.

  • Developing a healthy diet.
  • Getting restful sleep.
  • Developing hobbies different from work.
  • Developing positive coping strategies.
  • Reaching out to support groups and networks.

In addition to this, if the symptoms tend to persist, it is advisable to seek professional help from the best therapists in Pune.