Compassion In Balance
The next session will run Fall 2017!
The skills you need to be well, while you do good!
Imagine a place where everyone understands and respects the unique challenges of animal care work, a supportive community of peers to help you explore how the work is having an impact on your life, plus tons of resources and tools to help you learn how to be healthy and well while you’re making a difference in the world.
That’s what Compassion in Balance is all about.
Almost all of us who work or volunteer with animals experience compassion fatigue at some point. But hardly anyone talks about it. So even though it’s a normal reaction to the stress of our work, we think we’re the only ones who are struggling or that something is wrong with us.
If you feel like the work you do caring for animals is having an emotional and physical impact on you, please know that you’re not alone. The work we do affects all of us:
“The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.”
– Dr. Naomi Rachel Remen
What is Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion fatigue can be described as the physical and emotional exhaustion that arises from the constant demand to be compassionate and effective in helping those in need and who are suffering. It’s the natural consequence of stress resulting from caring for traumatized people and animals. The individual symptoms of compassion fatigue are numerous and varied, but may include: anger, loss of empathy, isolation, and sadness.
What is Compassion In Balance?
It’s a unique 8 week online program designed specifically to help animal care workers better understand what compassion fatigue is, how to manage stress, engage in self-care practices, and increase resiliency. Each week we dig into one of six strategies that research has shown reduces and transforms compassion fatigue-related stress.
You can participate in the class wherever you are. You can do it at home, any time of day, and you don’t even need to get out of your pajamas to join in. The course is all online and accessible 24-7.
What does the class include?
- 6 unique video lessons from Jessica, plus weekly activities, writing prompts, handouts, exercises, and discussion boards
- Three live integration calls with Jessica and Ellen Dolce LCSW (the calls are also recorded)
- Membership in a private Facebook group for support and encouragement
- A personal self-care toolkit based on worksheets you complete each week
- A safe, supportive environment to explore and practice new ideas
Here’s a snapshot of each week:
Week One: Kick Off + Welcome to Class
In this intro week, we’ll be checking in to get familiar with the online classroom, introduce ourselves, and meet our fellow self-care party-goers. It’s all hellos!
Week Two: Compassion Fatigue Groundwork
We’ll dive in deep so that everyone understands what Compassion Fatigue is and what the symptoms are in individuals and organizations. We’ll get familiar with our own experiences, what factors contribute to CF, and assess our current levels of CF and burnout.
Week Three: Taking Stock of Stress
Week three is dedicated to understanding our individual signs of stress and coping methods. We’ll work to create a personalized system to help us monitor and manage our daily stress levels.
Week Four: Self Care Strategies
In the fourth week, we’ll jump in to the importance of self-care and map out a variety of practices that can be used on the job and at home. We’ll begin to lay the framework of our own self-care plans.
Week Five: We breathe. This week is a break to talk, catch-up, and share our stories.
Week Six: The Rewards of the Work
Week 6 is dedicated to connecting to the rewards of our work and shifting our perspective to a more positive outlook in order to increase our Compassion Satisfaction.
Week Seven: Resiliency Building
In week 7 we’ll focus on resiliency building techniques, including mindfulness practices, which will help us bounce back from the inevitable stress of our work. We’ll also look at coping with what we can’t control.
Week Eight: Taking Action
In the final week, we’ll be talking about setting SMART goals and crafting a personal wellness vision to help keep us motivated as we take our new skills into the future!
By the end of class you’ll have:
- 6 strategies to help you manage and transform your experience with compassion fatigue
- A personalized self-care toolkit
- Your personal mission statement and SMART goals to help you make lasting changes
- A better understanding of yourself and how to engage in self-care that works for you
- A community of people who understand and support one another
- A better understanding of when and how to get professional mental health help
- A new way of relating to your work
- The tools you need to be well, while you continue to do good!
Who should take this class? And why?
Anyone working or volunteering with animals is welcome. Veterinarians and vet techs, dog trainers, animal shelter and rescue workers, animal control officers, foster families – if you work or volunteer with animals on a regular basis and want to learn more about compassion fatigue, how to make a plan for self care, and put it into practice, then this class is for you.
While the class does provide a supportive community, in the end, this is your journey to take. It’s a personal exploration. Throughout the class, you’ll build self-awareness, so that you can take better care of yourself and transform your relationship to your work with animals.
This is work only you can do. It’s reflective, honest, and it can be emotionally challenging at times. But that is where change happens.
The focus of CIB is on how we feel, what we can do to make a positive impact for ourselves at home and at work, and on learning how to build our internal resources. We’re taking responsibility for ourselves and throwing a self-care party in the process!
Why bother? Because when your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met, it allows you to engage in more ethical, effective, and sustainable work. And did I mention, it’ll help you feel less stressed? That’s pretty great too.
What this course is NOT:
- A quick fix. If you want a “6 Steps to a Stress-Free Job”, this class won’t be your jam.
- A place to endlessly complain and blame. The purpose of this class isn’t to swap war stories or to vent non-stop about how awful things are at work. We’re not here to debate other people’s philosophies or policies. While we will explore the challenges of the job and how they affect us, we’re always focused on constructive talk and our own feelings in CIB.
- About fixing everyone else. This is about getting to know yourself and what you need. You are the one you’re caring for in this class.
This class is NOT a substitution for professional mental health care. If you’re suffering from clinical depression, anxiety, or are having suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help.
How much does it cost?
Compassion in Balance costs $149.
I offer group discounts. If your organization would like to send four or more staff members, the cost is reduced to $99 per person. That’s a savings of more than 30% off the normal price. Please contact me for group registration details.
When does it start?
The next session will run in FALL 2017. Please sign up for notifications of futures sessions here.
Here’s what more people are saying:
Who created and teaches the class?
I’m Jessica Dolce, a certified compassion fatigue educator, dog walker, writer, grad student, creator of DINOS, and author of Notes from a Dog Walker. I’ve spent my entire career caring for companion animals as a dog walker, animal shelter volunteer and employee, and animal welfare advocate.
And I’ve experienced compassion fatigue and burnout firsthand! I built this class because I want to make sure others have access to the tools and information that I wish I’d known about. If you’re working to make the world a better place for animals then you’re my heroes and I want to support you. That’s why this class exists! You can learn more about me here.
Ellen Dolce LCSW will be joining us on some of our live integration phone calls. Ellen has decades of experience working as a licensed clinical social worker and as a life coach as well. She’s also my mom and I think she’s too awesome to keep all to myself! She’ll be on the two live calls to answer your questions and to talk with us about mental health concerns and effective strategies for making positive changes in our lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Compassion In Balance mean?
Through this course, we’ll be working to restore some balance in our lives by learning to give to ourselves with as much enthusiasm and compassion as we give to others. We’re learning to be good to ourselves, while we do good in the world. As John Wilson says, “It’s important to counterbalance the intensity of the work you do.”
Is there a wait list for the next session?
You can sign up for that right here. Folks on the wait list will be notified (before anyone else) when a new session is starting, so they’ll have the first shot at enrollment.
What do I need to take this class?
A computer, the internet, and if you want to join the live calls, a phone (Skype works too). If you’d like to be a part of the (optional) Facebook group, then an account there is needed. Plus, a journal and pen would be cool too.
Do I need to download anything?
No. The class is offered in an online classroom called Ruzuku. All you need to do is sign up for the class and create an account on Ruzuku (it’s free).
How will the class be delivered?
Every Monday morning for 8 weeks, you’ll get an email from me letting you know that the new module has been released for the week. The email will contain links to all the new content and you can access it all on the Ruzuku classroom.
Can I take this class anonymously?
Sort of. I’ll know who you are through the registration process (and will keep that information private). However, if you feel that identifying yourself to the rest of the class will hinder your ability to participate, you can choose to use just your first name or a pseudonym as your profile name, so that your fellow class members can’t identify you. You do not have to share the name of your organization either.
I’m so busy. How much time will the class take?
On average, students spend about 2 hours a week in class. But not all at once! Most spend 10-20 minutes a day on the class watching videos, doing activities, and participating in discussions.
What if I fall behind?
No problem! The class materials will remain up for one year after the end of class. This allows you to access the materials, including the recordings of the live calls you may have missed, for a very long time! So if life gets in the way, you’ll have plenty of time to return to the class.
Do I have to be in class at certain times?
Nope! There are no set times when you have to be in class. There will be three live calls held in the evening (8pm EST), but if you are unable to make them, you can send in your questions ahead of time and access a recording of the call the next day, so that you can listen to them whenever you like.
Do you offer refunds or a guarantee?
No, I do not offer refunds. I offer a fun, supportive, and challenging learning experience, but I do not guarantee specific results, as participants will come to this course in all different phases of life, types of businesses, and varying levels of self-awareness. You are responsible for integrating and implementing the course materials in whatever way works best for you at this time. If you need extra time to complete the class because of an unforeseen circumstance, you will have access to the materials for a year.
Can I purchase this class for my staff or as a gift for someone else?
Yes! That’s very nice of you to do! Ruzuku explains how to pay for a class as a gift for someone else here.
When you purchase the class, a form email will automatically be generated welcoming the new student into the class. So when you pay, they’ll know they’ve been enrolled in the class without any delay. Then they can access the class and change their login information.
Organizations enrolling 4 or more staff members qualify for a discount ($99 per person). Please contact me for group registration details.
After I hit purchase, what happens?
Watch your inbox for a confirmation email! When the class is about to start, you’ll get another email letting you know it’s time to enter the Ruzuku classroom and get going.
I think I’m experiencing compassion fatigue because I’m the owner and caregiver of a pet with medical or behavioral issues. Is this the right class for me?
No, but you absolutely deserve a class! I’ll be offering a compassion fatigue and self-care class for pet owners in the future. For now, the class is only open to people who work or volunteer with animals.
Can I take this class if I don’t work or volunteer with animals, but experience compassion fatigue because of my work in a different helping field?
For the time being, the classes are just for folks who care for animals. One day, I’ll have classes for everyone!
If you have any further questions, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org