When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue is a hazard to the helping professionals that deal with traumatic events. This film heightens awareness of the symptoms and risks of Compassion Fatigue. New information about prevention, resilience and treatment is presented. Specific strategies on awareness, lifestyle balance and connecting with others are given to assist trauma workers. Experts Frank Ochberg, M.D., Charles Figley, Ph.D., John Wilson, Ph.D., Carl Bell, M.D., Atle Dyregrov, Ph.D. and Angie Panos, Ph.D. offer their own stories and advice on dealing with Compassion Fatigue.

RT:17 Minutes and appropriate for workshops, trainings, and classroom.Order DVD.View Video Clips When Helping Hurts: Sustaining Trauma Workers:
Video Clip 1:What is Compassion Fatigue
Video Clip 2:CF Exists in All the Professions

DVD Review

4. Review of DVD When Helping Hurts:

Both tapes, When Helping Hurts: Sustaining Trauma Workers and Recovering From Traumatic Events: The Healing Process were very well done and will be very helpful. They fill a huge void in the video world – I have found nothing else like this that presents in a positive and hopeful manner. Thanks.

Mike McEvoy, PhD
EMS Coordinator
Saratoga County, N.Y.

DVD Review

4b. Review of When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue

Reviewed by Linda May Grobman, ACSW, LSW

This 17-minute DVD from Gift From Within addresses the issue of compassion fatigue among trauma workers, including medical personnel, mental health professionals, fire fighters, police officers, and reporters, among others who respond to disasters and work with trauma victims. This is especially relevant when thinking of events such as 9/11, Katrina and Rita, and yesterday’s campus shootings at Virginia Tech. In the video, mental health experts Frank Ochberg, M.D.; Chargles Figley, Ph.D.; and others talk about the ways that trauma work can affect those who do this kind of work every day. Figley talks about the need to take care of oneself-to “put the mask on yourself first,” so to speak, as airline passengers are asked to do before helping others. The use of peer support is also discussed as an important factor in preventing and treating compassion fatigue. This issue needs to be discussed in training of all medical, mental health, emergency, and other trauma personnel. The video is an excellent tool that can be used to introduce this important topic.

DVD Review

  1. Review of When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue

Review by Laura Slap-Shelton, Psy.D. Writer. Publisher. Griefandrenewal.com

Do you have compassion fatigue? What happens to the people who spend their days working with trauma victims? Are they somehow immune from being affected by the traumas and tragedies they witness? When Helping Hurts, a beautifully produced educational DVD about compassion fatigue, emphatically answers, NO. In fact, trauma workers are usually extremely empathic and tend to be other oriented, both traits which make them even more vulnerable to what Frank Ochberg, M.D. and Charles Figley, Ph.D. describe as compassion fatigue.

If you are or know a trauma worker, i.e. anyone ranging from a firefighter to a counselor who helps victims of extreme situations how would you recognize compassion fatigue? Symptoms to be aware of are a loss of sense of humor, irritability, feeling cynical, demoralized, feeling cut off from concerns and activities of family and friends, isolating oneself, and can even range to a spectrum of symptoms such as nightmares and flashbacks similar to those seen in Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome.

Prevention of compassion fatigue involves maintaining a professional stance while providing services and being sure to take care of oneself when not. Making sure that you maintain clear boundaries, and eat, sleep, exercise, have fun, stay connected to family and friends, and yes, even have sex, when off duty is the only way to ensure that you will have the energy and resilience needed to provide the best of yourself when on.

Intervention services for trauma workers include individual counseling and peer support. Agencies can help their staff by creating peer support groups lead by workers trained in helping their peers with compassion fatigue.

DVD Review

4b. Review of When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue

Review by Dr. Beverly Anderson
Clinical Director & Administrator, Metropolitan Police Employee Assistance Program, Washington, DC

The 17-minute version is a “must have” reality check for law enforcement officers. I use it consistently in our critical incident debriefing groups as well as in our management training and wellness lectures. It reminds our law enforcement officers to respect the enormity of what they must experience out there on the street every day. It is a testimonial to the “universality” of the human response to overwhelming life events and provides us with the compelling mantra that we must be “our brother’s keeper.” As professional helpers, we have a responsibility to practice what we preach! No one is immune to the rigors of “trauma work.”

DVD Review

4b. Review of When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue

Review by The Rev. Laura M. Edwards, Pastoral Care Coordinator, PenBayHealthcare
Hospice Chaplain, KWL Home Healthcare and Hospice

People in the helping professions sometimes feel foolish or weak when we are affected by the pain and trauma suffered by those we help. But “When Helping Hurts: Preventing & Treating Compassion Fatigue” reminds us that we are human and this work is hard. The professionals interviewed in this video clearly identify symptoms of Compassion Fatigue and they offer concrete solutions for addressing CF in our lives. Thank you for producing such an excellent resource. I will share this with my clergy and pastoral visitor colleagues.

You have a WONDERFUL website . . . it is so full of valuable information and support. Great work.