What is Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion fatigue is the cumulative physical, emotional and psychological effect of exposure to traumatic stories or events when working in a helping capacity, combined with the strain and stress of everyday life.
It’s important to note that compassion fatigue is different than burnout. While burnout is predictable, building over time and resulting in work dissatisfaction, compassion fatigue has a narrower focus. Someone affected by compassion fatigue may be harmed by the work they do, experiencing intrusive imagery and a change in world-view.
Compassion fatigue is also known as vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, second hand shock and secondary stress reaction. Regardless of the term used, compassion fatigue affects those in the helping professions, including the legal profession, and is treatable. Treatment of compassion fatigue may prevent the development of a more serious disorder.