3. Compassion Fatigue: Connection to Trauma, Stages and Assessments

Introduction

In this section of the toolkit we will delve more deeply into the concept of compassion fatigue; how it connects to our understanding of trauma, the stages that one might experience if compassion fatigue is not addressed, and how to assess our levels of secondary trauma, burnout and compassion satisfaction. As we grow in our understanding of the extent and impact of trauma on the students we teach, their families and our communities, our ability to maintain an open and compassionate approach can be challenged. Compassion fatigue can develop slowly overtime and go unrecognized. This section gives us insights that can guide us to take proactive measures to prevent its progression.



Applications

Key Activity

Stages of Compassion Fatigue – Cats Cycle 

Wellness Practice

“Just Like Me” Exercise

Circle Agenda

Staff Circle Agenda, Section Three

Core Content Visual

Stages of Compassion Fatigue – Cats Cycle – Use this Visual and Display in Staff Break Areas
Posting this visual in common staff areas will serve as a reminder of content covered to staff and perhaps serve as a future conversation started for deeper reflection among staff members.

Supplementary Activities/Handouts

ProQOL Self-Assessment Tool

The ProQOL is a 30 question, self-administered, self-scored, free assessment. This is included in the document to distribute for this section. Facilitators should make time for participants to complete the assessment during their time together or ask them to complete ahead of time.

It can be used on a regular basis as a self-check-in, offered in conjunction with supervisory or mentoring consultations, or as a basis for small group discussion. Please note that it is available on the ProQOL site in many languages. We do not recommend ProQOL’s are collected after being completed by participants, but rather used as a reflection tool.

Facilitators should be prepared to offer resources to staff whose ProQOL outcomes point to significant levels of burnout or secondary traumatic stress. Each district has employee support protocols and resources. Be sure you know those and remind staff that they exists and how to access them.

 


Links

Links Specifically for Leadership

Organizational Assessment Tool

Research links organizational culture to staff experience of compassion fatigue1. One strong predictor of compassion fatigue is lack of clarity about the vision and mission of the organization. Leadership’s ability to align staff toward an overarching goal is an important key to staff job and compassion satisfaction.

Creating a trauma-informed culture of support for staff enhances their ability to provide such a culture for the students and families they serve. The STSI-OA is an assessment of the organization’s culture related to preventing and minimizing secondary trauma. The score is calculated online for your organization. Discuss results with your leadership team and consider one action to improve your school’s support for staff related to secondary trauma. http://www.stsinformed.com

1. Condrey, Katherine M. The Relationship between Compassion Fatigue and Organizational Culture. Diss. George Fox University, 2015.

Additional Resources

DPI’s Trauma Sensitive Schools Modules

Ross Greene’s Website

Cats Stages of Compassion Fatigue Video

Secondary Traumatic Stress Informed Organizational Assessment

Cultivating Compassion – Commonalities Practice