Caitlin Lanier, LMSW
Compassion Fatigue is a form of caregiver burnout (Figley, 2002). Our empathy and emotional investment in helping people who are suffering make us vulnerable. It’s not a matter of if stress will take a toll on us as helping professionals, but more a matter of when and to what extent we take effective action to limit stress intake, learn how to manage stress, and reach out to support systems. The signs of compassion fatigue are sadness, grief, avoidance or dread of working with others, reduced ability to feel empathy, somatic complaints, addiction, nightmares, increased psychological arousal, changes in beliefs, detachment, and decreased intimacy. It is important to be able to take care of yourself and know when you need to take a step back and engage in what will help you, even if it means saying “no” and setting boundaries.