Being a professional involved in delivering talking therapies is a fantastic career, with huge personal satisfaction that can come from connecting with and helping others. It can also be stressful and challenging at times, especially in the face of cuts to services and other systemic stressors.
It is really important to look after yourself in order to be able to look after others. Just like the flight metaphor of putting on your own oxygen mask before helming someone else on an aeroplane, we need to be feeling as good as possible in order to have energy and focus to help other people.
We have pulled together some information and resources which we think are helpful. If there are other resources you find helpful feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest that they are added to the list.
Some definitions to be aware of:
Compassion is the feeling of empathy for another’s suffering and the desire to do something to alleviate that suffering.
Compassion Fatigue is the gradual lessening of compassion over time due to repeated demands.
Secondary Trauma is the emotional stress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another. Its symptoms mimic those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) even though the flashbacks and re-experiencing relate to another person’s memories. This is also sometimes called Vicarious Trauma.
Burnout is a state of utter emotional and physical exhaustion caused by a prolonged period of stress and frustration.
Self care involves the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness. Self-care is essential to enable therapists to function well.
We have detailed some resources for individual therapists and for organisations which can be accessed using the menu above. Compassion fatigue can occur as a result of wider systemic pressures, and providing some resources for individuals here does not mean that we suggest that compassion fatigue and burnout are solely the responsibility of the individual. We have also detailed some resources about how organisations can be compassionate, and these might also be of use.
If you are a BABCP member we have a large number of branches and SIGs that you can join for free, that can also be helpful to enable a sense of connection with a wider community of people in your field.