Risk of Compassion Fatigue
Compassion fatigue, also called “vicarious traumatization” or secondary traumatization (Figley, 1995), is defined as the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. It differs from burn-out but can co-exist with burn-out. Compassion Fatigue can occur due to exposure on one case or can be due to a “cumulative” level of trauma (The American Institute of Stress).
As written in the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology guidelines, trauma work requires more than desire and training. It is crucial that those caring for and addressing the traumatic responses of others care for themselves. The most experienced and knowledgeable of caregivers are vulnerable to the emotional strain know as compassion fatigue. Caregivers need to be mindful of the symptoms of compassion fatigue and understand their own emotional vulnerabilities when working with victims of traumatic stress and crisis situations. Caregiver needs to be aware of all components of compassion fatigue, that is the cognitive, emotional, behavioral, physical and spiritual. Not monitoring one’s self in any of these domains can increase the risk of compassion fatigue (Green Cross Academy of Traumatology).
Green Cross Academy of Traumatology (GCAT) requires that those who are volunteering to deploy complete the Compassion Fatigue Self-Test and/or have an interview with a GCAT Compassion Fatigue Specialist prior to deployment. The Compassion Fatigue Self-Test can be downloaded by clicking here.