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Copy of Compassion fatigue & Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques as an intervention for helping professionals coping with compassion fatigue

Melissa Rolfes

on 20 December 2016

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Transcript of Copy of Compassion fatigue & Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques as an intervention for helping professionals coping with compassion fatigue
Melissa Rolfes
Lynchburg College

This presentation will explore the following
Our work requires us to feel empathy and compassion for clients or patients.
What is compassion fatigue?
What is mindfulness?
How can compassion fatigue be prevented and treated through the utilization of mindfulness-techniques?
Before we get started.....
Clarification of "helping professional"
those whose work involves nurturing the growth of, or addressing the problems of, a person’s physical, psychological, or emotional well-being
(Mathieu, 2007).
In other words.... YOU!
Are we just getting paid for a service?
There is one huge difference...
Research shows that there is a connection between a helping professional’s empathy and the quality of care they provide (Huggard, 2004).
When we experience the private world of a client or patient, this is empathy.
Compassion is when we bear the suffering of another.
Figley (2002) states that compassion and empathy “provide the tools required in the art of human service” (p. 1434)
Empathy and compassion are required of us if we are to be competent professionals, and our work has high emotional demands
Because of this, in recent years, the literature has identified an occupational hazard SPECIFIC to helping professions:..
(Figley, 2002; Forster, 2009; Huggard, 2003; Mathieu, 2007; Sprang et al., 2007; Tyler, 2012).
What is compassion fatigue?
What does compassion fatigue do to someone?
(Figley, 2002; Mathieu, 2007; Sprang et al., 2007; Tyler, 2012)
(Tyler, 2012)
What are some warning signs of compassion fatigue?
(Mathieu, 2007)
What is the difference between burnout and compassion fatigue?
"a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long-term involvement in emotionally demanding situations"
(Pines & Aronson, 1988, p. 9).
... vs Compassion Fatigue
a more progressed form of psychological disruption, with a rapid onset, typically caused by vicarious trauma
(Sprang et al., 2007).
Can the same treatments work for both?
Difficulty in identifying burnout
Experiences that put us at risk for compassion fatigue
-secondary trauma

-exposure to suffering

-moral burdens

(Forster, 2009).
Neurological implications of compassion fatigue
Fight or flight
The neurological basis of stress & compassion fatigue
(Hanson & Mendius, 2004)
Limbic system conversation
The transfer of emotions between people in close proximity has been described as
a conversation between limbic systems.

Over time, and without proper support, the limbic system of a professional can start to mirror that of a client, causing vicarious trauma.
(Hanson & Mendius, 2004)
Traditional interventions for compassion fatigue
Developing emotional awareness skills
Supervision and discussions with colleagues
Developing an awareness of warning signs
Existential therapy
Separation of work and emotional self
(Figley, 2002)
But there is another therapeutic intervention that can be used, possibly in conjunction with the aforementioned, that can guard us and help us cope with this occupational hazard of compassion fatigue...
(Forster, 2009)
(Forster, 2009)
(Forster, 2009)
(Huggard, 2003)
"To cure"
Mindfulness has its roots in eastern traditions, particularly Buddhism
Buddhists believe practicing mindfulness fosters clarity of thinking and compassion, as well as alleviates suffering and promotes well-being
OK... so what does mindfulness have to do with compassion fatigue?
Present Moment
What does "being mindful" mean?
(Bishop, 2002)
deep breathing
progressive muscle relaxation
Overall, it is believed that practicing mindfulness can increase self-awareness, decrease stress, and enhance feelings of empathy. When cultivated, mindfulness can lead to a capacity to direct and maintain receptive awareness, and sustain an accepting attitude toward life experiences...
Bishop, S. R. (2002). What do we really know about mindfulness-based stress reduction? Psychomatic Medicine, 64, 71-84.

Figley, C. R. (2002). Compassion fatigue: Psychotherapist's chronic lack of self care. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(11), 1433-1441. doi:10.1002/jclp.10090

Forster, D. (2009). Rethinking compassion fatigue as moral stress. Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, 4(1), 1-4.
Gazella, K. A. (2005). Jon Kabat-Zinn, PHD bringing mindfulness to medicine. Alternative Therapies, 11(3), 56-64.
Hanson, R, & Mendius, R. (2009). Buddha’s Brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom. Oakland: New Harbinger.

Hill, C. L. M., & Updegraff, J. A. (2012). Mindfulness and its relationship to emotional regulation. Emotion, 12(1), 81-90. doi:10.1037/a0026355

Huggard, P. (2003). Compassion fatigue: How much can I give? Medical Education, 37(2), 163-164. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2923.2003.01414.x

Mathieu, F. (2007). Running on Empty: Compassion Fatigue in Health Professionals. Retrieved from Workshops for the Helping Professionals: Compassion Fatigue Solutions & Professional Development website: http://compassionfatigue.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Solutions_article.pdf

Pines, A. & Aronson, E. (1988). Career burnout: Causes and cures. New York: The Free Press.

Praissman, S. (2008). Mindfulness-based stress reduction: A literature review and clinician’s guide. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 20, 212-216. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2008.00306.x

Sauer, S., Lemke, J., Wittman, M., Kohls, N., Mochty, U., & Walach, H. (2012). How long is now for mindfulness meditators? Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 750-754. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.12.026

Sprang, G., Clark, J. J., & Whitt-Woosley, A. (2007). Compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and burnout: Factors impacting a professional's quality of life. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 12(3), 259-280. doi:10.1080/15325020701238093

Stamm, B. H. (2009). Professional Quality of Life: Compassion Satisfaction and Fatigue Version-5 (ProQOL). Retrieved from http://www.proqol.org/ProQol_Test.html

Tyler, T. A. (2012). The limbic model of systemic trauma. Journal of Social Work Practice, 26(1), 125-138. doi: 10.1080/02650533.2011.602474

Williams, J. M. (2010). Mindfulness and psychological process. Emotion, 10(1), 1-7. doi: 10.1037/a0018360
Compassion Fatigue + Mindfulness
Mindfulness practices have been shown to strengthen the amygdala and limbic system.
This not only can lead to less severe physiological reactions to stress, but also enhances ones ability to feel compassion and empathy on a neurological level
(Hanson & Mendius, 2009).
Because mindfulness allows people to conceptualize their thoughts as simply mental events, it has strong implications for emotional regulation and self-awareness.
(Bishop, 2002; Hill & Updegraff, 2012).
Mindfulness-techniques have been shown in the literature to have profound positive effects on feelings of empathy and compassion in individuals.
(Bishop, 2002; Gazella, 2005; Hill & Updegraff, 2012; Praissman, 2008; William, 2010).

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