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It looks like I’m about a week late in starting the course… I received the notification regarding the new start date of the course, but as so many things in life, I lost track of the time and am barely getting to it now… It’s my first course with the Oates Institute (I’m excited about it because I consider myself a lifelong learner) and my first “classroom” experience in a few years now, since graduating with a D.Min. in 2017. I posted my introduction last night in the “Introductions” thread if anyone is interested in knowing more about me…
My reflections regarding the first week’s assignments: Well first off, I feel that I was forced to blaze through the material since I’m starting late, and it made me a little stressed in the process, but I think I got a good grasp of it… I definitely felt that the first presentation heavily leaned on the side of compassion fatigue, which I was not expecting, but was nevertheless appreciative of simply because it was material I was unfamiliar with…
What I especially appreciated about Dr. Middleton’s presentation was the portion that described the differences between burnout and compassion fatigue… It was interesting to me to see the differences in the two. Whereas burnout develops over time (and it thus takes longer to overcome), secondary trauma can occur suddenly and can be overcome just as (relatively speaking) quickly.
Notwithstanding the detrimental effects of secondary trauma (there’s not doubt that it’s harmful), I see burnout as being much more harmful as it not only takes longer to treat, but it virtually “takes you out” of commission from serving in whatever capacity in which you find yourself… Having previously studied burnout, I know that it often renders the individual useless in their capacity to serve. Incidentally, Maslach (the leading researcher on Burnout) says that burnout in it’s truest form is the product of “helping professions.” Though people like to throw the term around loosely to describe being worn out from virtually any activity, true burnout comes from helping others (in social work, pastoral ministry, etc.).
I appreciated Dr. Middleton’s questions clarifying those who are more susceptible to compassion fatigue through the various risk factors. It was interesting to me that the single most important risk factor to predicting an increased chance for experiencing compassion fatigue was having a personal history of trauma. This is important to note because often times it is those individuals who have experienced past trauma who have the desire to go out and become a part of one of the “helping professions,” because they want to help others avoid or cope with similar circumstances to what they went through… Unfortunately, is is this same group that puts themselves at risk for experiencing compassion fatigue themselves… But as they say, “knowledge is power,” so “knowing” should help them to prepare mentally, emotionally, and strategically in order to properly avoid CF.
From Dr. Underwood’s “Preventing Burnout in the Workplace,” piece, probably the best bit of gold (at least for me) was the section on individual strategies… Having worked with many people within the workplace, probably the single-most question I get asked is, “What can I do to stop feeling this way?” I thought these were some practical strategies to help lessen the impact and reduce stressors leading to burnout.