Canvas Health Staff Trains in Compassion Fatigue

October is Wellness Month at Canvas Health. As part of the celebration, Canvas Health invited Sharise Nance, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, as well as an author, speaker, and facilitator, to present “When Helping Hurts: Understanding the Impact of Compassion Fatigue.”

Sharise Nance - Compassion Fatigue Training

The training is meant to help staff:

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue
  • Identify risk and protective factors contributing to compassion fatigue
  • Identify coping strategies to prevent compassion fatigue
  • Implement strategies to manage emotionally charged situations
  • Implement one non-negotiable self-care activity over the next seven days

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue is the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of helping others, often through experience of stress or trauma. This impacts our counseling staff, but it’s not limited to therapists—caregivers of all kinds experience compassion fatigue.

Compassion fatigue is often mistaken for burnout, which is a cumulative sense of fatigue or dissatisfaction that manifests as anger and frustration. Instead, compassion fatigue manifests as sadness and grief, avoidance and dread of working with some clients, students, and patients, as well as reduced ability to feel empathy towards clients, students, and families.

Sharise Nance led our staff through exercises and exploration of protective factors against compassion fatigue. We learned how staff can help themselves, how colleagues can support each other, and how leadership and protect their staff including:

  • Lifestyle: relaxation, nourishment, connection
  • Basic self-care: eat, sleep, move
  • Personal healing: past losses and/or traumatic
  • Peer support and team-building in the workplace
  • Monitor your media intake, create a “trauma filter”
  • Time off from being “on”

“This is like the common cold” for health care professionals, Nance said. But our staff, other healthcare professionals, and all the caregivers can recognize compassion fatigue and overcome it.