Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue – The Cost of Caring
On Friday 21st April 2023 The Psychologists Protection Society invited Patricia Allen-Garrett to speak on the topic “Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue – The Cost of Caring”. This session was part of The Psychologists Protection Society’s 2023 Annual General Meeting, held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
The practitioner’s empathy and ability to witness are key aspects of not just our professional ability but also of our humanity. However, when we are repeatedly exposed to traumatic stories or seemingly intractable problems, our sense of safety in the world can change, our compassion can become eroded and we can begin to feel a range of responses such as feeling helpless, hopeless, de-skilled, exhausted, confused, etc. Left unacknowledged this can result in the development of Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue and if not addressed we may develop Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder which mirrors our clients’ PTSD.
In this interactive presentation comprising both theoretical and practical elements we will:
- Examine the characteristics of Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue;
- Identify any characteristics that we may be experiencing;
- Reflect on how we may be unconsciously defending against Vicarious Trauma or Compassion Fatigue with the people we work with and possibly unknowingly silencing them;
Touch briefly on the importance of developing an ethical and self-tailored care plan to help increase our resilience in the face of secondary traumatic injuries such as Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma in a bid to move towards compassion resilience.
Patricia Allen-Garrett, BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Counselling & Psychotherapy, Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy (MIAHIP, ECP) works as a humanistic and integrative psychotherapist in private practice and incorporates somatic and parts work into her client-work. She is also engaged in groupwork with people who have attempted suicide or who are struggling with suicidal ideation for the mental health organisation Suicide or Survive (SOS). Additionally she facilitates a programme for SOS for people who are supporting people with mental health difficulties.
She is passionate about and works extensively in the field of trauma and provides training for mental health professionals in trauma and trauma-informed care as well as lecturing in it. She is part of a national working group tasked with producing a guidance document on trauma-informed care in Ireland as part of ‘Sharing the Vision’- Ireland’s policy framework for the continued development and enhancement of mental health services.
Patricia has also been involved in the training of counsellors since 2008 and works as a core tutor and lecturer on a Masters course in Counselling and Psychotherapy in Dublin. Additionally, she works with a diverse range of organisations providing workshops and webinars on different aspects of wellness and mental health and also the Psychology of Happiness.