Befriending Compassion Fatigue SeriesContinuing Education
Lesson One: Burnout ACT Step Two
1. “The up side to behaviors like the Silencing Response is that they act as smoke detectors to warn us of the need for action before the fire of Compassion Fatigue gets out of control. When we use this warning to motivate an investment in extreme self-care and some good trauma therapy we can begin to recover, both for ourselves and those we serve.” –Jan Spillman
Discuss a time you experienced silencing responses in the face of suffering, either as a caregiver or a care-receiver. Is this a situation you often face? How did that make you feel? How did it make the care-receiver feel? Some examples of silencing responses include: avoiding the topic, changing the subject, giving a pious/canned answer, implying a lack of faith, belittling stress, suggesting “just get over it,” giving angry or sarcastic remarks, blaming victims, faking interest, inattention, appearing visibly bored, and doubting people’s stories.
2. “It is important to become aware of the times you are truly connected, the times you are listening to the story, the times you are present with the patient.” –Soul & Science Lesson
Why does a caregiver’s inattention not only close off discussion with a patient, but also add to the caregiver’s compassion fatigue? What might be some examples of opposite, healthy responses in the face of suffering and trauma? How can an apparent lack of interest be modified into sincere communication and how does that connection benefit all involved?
3. “Our medical model would like to make [compassion fatigue] into some sort of disease, illness, or pathological condition that needs to be fixed, eliminated, or cured in some way. What I have to say is that it is a natural part of the way we are wired to be human.” – Soul & Science Lesson
How does your caregiving community view compassion fatigue? Is it seen as personal weakness or is it seen as a natural struggle most caregivers face? What formal or informal support systems are in place to recognize and respond to this challenge? If there are none available, what would you like to see implemented.
4. “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I was put on earth to offer others.”-Parker Palmer
How is self-awareness part of self-care? How can awareness of disconnection lead to greater compassion towards yourself? How can it lead to greater satisfaction in the caregiver role?
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