Compassion Fatigue: Caring for the Caregiver

Compassion Fatigue: Caring for the Caregiver

Thad Hicks Ohio Christian University FEMA Higher Education Conference 2011 06/07/11 Help! I Need Somebody! A state where the person who is helping traumatized people becomes preoccupied with those people by "re-experiencing the traumatic events avoidance/numbing of reminders persistent arousal (e.g., anxiety). It

is a function of bearing witness to the suffering of others. Feelings and behaviors that result from the indirect exposure to trauma by helping or wanting to help someone who has been traumatized. Feelings and behaviors that result from directly experiencing a trauma and cause a significant disruption in a person's life.

Anyone who provides a service or listens to another person. A helper can be a teacher, therapist, doctor, nurse, counselor, nursing home employees, friend, family member, caseworker, police office, firefighter, journalist, first responders, etc. Compassion Fatigue Trajectory Zealot Phase

Irritability Phase Withdrawal Phase Zombie Phase Leaving the Work Zealot Irritability Withdraw

Zombie Overwhelmed & Leaving the Work 2010, T. Hicks Zealot Phase Committed, involved, available Solving problems/making a difference Willingly go the extra mile

High enthusiasm Volunteers without being asked The Irritability Phase Begin to cut corners Begin to avoid clients/patients Begin to mock co-workers and clients Begin to denigrate the people we serve Use of humor is inappropriate Oversights, mistakes and lapses of

concentration Start distancing ourselves from friends and coworkers The Withdrawal Phase Enthusiasm turns sour Clients become irritants, instead of persons We make complaints about our work life and our personal life

Tired all the time, dont want to talk about what we do. We start to neglect our family, clients, coworkers and ourselves We try to avoid our pain and sadness The Zombie Phase Our hopelessness turns to rage We begin to hate peopleany/all people Others appear incompetent or ignorant

to us We develop a real distain for our clients We haveno patienceno sense of humorno time for fun Victimization / Overwhelmed and Forced to Leave the Work - Overwhelmed and leaving the profession - Somatic Illness - Perpetuity of Symptoms

Misconceptions I will fix the problemmake everything O.K save the world I am responsible for outcomes. If I care enough, everything will be O.K. The sufferer/victim will appreciate everything I do for them. I will have enough resources (time, money, material, skills and training) to fix things.

Significant people in my life with support and approve my absence from our relationship while I invest in this compassionate work. I know what Im getting into. I can do it alone. If Im informed enough, I can deal with the stress of working with suffering people. My definition of success is.. Symptoms Nervousness and anxiety

Withdrawing from others Anger and irritability. Changes in appetite, sleep or other habits Mood swings Physical changes

Flashbacks Depression Difficulty concentrating Self-Medication Lowered self-esteem

Self-Entitlement Feeling less trusting of others Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue (intrusive) Thoughts and images associated with the clients problems and pain. Obsessive or compulsive desire to help

certain clients Client/work issues encroaching on personal time Inability to let go of mission related matters Perception of clients as fragile and needing your assistance Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue (intrusive, cont.) Sense of inadequacy Sense of entitlement

Perception of the world in terms of victims and perpetrators Personal activities interrupted by the mission Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue (avoidance) Silencing Response (avoiding clients stuff) Loss of enjoyment/cessation of self-care activities Loss of energy

Loss of hope/sense of dread working with certain clients Loss of sense of competence/potency Isolation Secretive self-medication/addition (alcohol, drugs, work, sex, food, spending, etc.) Relational dysfunction Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue (arousal)

Increased anxiety Impulsivity/reactivity Increased perception of demand/threat (in both job and environment) Increased frustration/anger Sleep disturbance Difficulty concentrating Change in weight/appetite Sleep

Sleep Disruption is a key indicator of Compassion Fatigue When a care givers sleep pattern is disrupted for an extended period of time, this is a key warning sign that something is wrong. If normal sleep patterns arent reestablished, this combined with other symptoms may indicate that the caregiver is developing Compassion Fatigue. Disruption of Normal Sleep Patterns can be a primary cause of Compassion Fatigue

It is during normal deep sleep that much of the processing of the traumatic experiences occur. When sleep is disrupted (either shorten or disturbed), the traumatic experience can become lodged in the sympathetic nervous system. Over time an accumulation of these unprocessed traumatic experiences can lead to Compassion Fatigue. Recovery Zealot

Irritability Withdraw Zombie Overwhelmed & Leaving the Work 2010, T. Hicks Zealot

o i t Ac t n i o P

n Transformation & Resiliency Irritability Withdraw Zombie Overwhelmed & Leaving the Work

2010, T. Hicks Transformation & Resiliency Zealot Irritability t n

i o P n o i t Ac Withdraw Zombie

Overwhelmed & Leaving the Work 2010, T. Hicks Transformation & Resiliency Zealot Irritability

Withdraw t n i o P n o i t

Ac Zombie Overwhelmed & Leaving the Work 2010, T. Hicks Transformation & Resiliency

Action Point Zealot Irritability Withdraw Zombie 2010, T. Hicks

Steps to Recovery Intentionality Connection Anxiety Management/Self-soothing Self-care Narrative Desensitization and Reprocessing Self-supervision There are a number of different practices that can be utilized to help move a person from fatigued to refreshed.

Envision a kitchen and you are creating a masterpiece dish. That dish is made up of multiple ingredients including 1 part 1 part 1 part 1 part 1 part 1 part Self-Knowledge Self-Examination

Resourcing Expectations Self-Care Strategy Plan for Re-entering a Normal Life Body Active body work that exercises the body and elevates heart, respiratory rates to a moderate extent such as brisk walking, running, swimming, biking, etc. Studies show that 30 minutes of moderate exercise (this can be

broken up in several blocks throughout the day) done throughout the week is quite beneficial. If done most days of the week, this exercise will bring significant payoffs in physical and emotional health. What other things might we do to move us from fatigued to refreshed? Mind Feeding our minds and imaginations with things that clarify our mission, vision and values. This could be reading uplifting materials, autobiographies, or even religious devotional materials.

What other things might we do to move us from fatigued to refreshed? Spirit The ability to tune in to the often-subtle voice inside us brings heart wisdom, compassion, and creativity. Set aside daily quiet time, writing your thoughts down, and reviewing them. Weekly artist date: Do something creative and fulfilling that brings you deep joy, such as writing poetry, playing music, doing pottery, woodworking, caring for plants, etc. Whatever you choose, do it in the awareness that the purpose is to feed you through creative activities, not to produce something, even though

you may be involved in production activity. The activity you choose should leave you feeling energized, centered, renewed, and grateful for life. What other things might we do to move us from fatigued to refreshed? Thoughts to Walk Away With Youre only responsible for your task. Youre not God. The need will always be greater than the resources. Use care in how you measure success

Value small victories. Who you are is as important to the mission as what you do. Their pain is not your pain. Dont take them home with you. Remember to care for your spirit, emotions and body so that there will be something left to give. - Compassion Fatigue is always a possibility for those who care for others. - There is no compassion fatigue when all our caring is successful.

- If you dont care for yourself, physically, emotionally and spiritually, then eventually there will not be enough of you left to care for anyone else. - Compassion Fatigue Its not a character flaw! Do not let the nature of this work destroy your effectiveness! A lot of people are counting on you!

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