Recently, I spoke with a friend who has worked in animal sheltering for nearly a decade. I wanted to know how she manages her compassion fatigue. She shared that her connection to others, specifically regular debriefing with her supervisor, has been a big part in staying healthy over the years.
She also mentioned helpful advice from Doug Fakkema, a pioneer in compassion fatigue education and humane euthanasia practices. Fakkema counsels shelter workers to never let more than 48 hours go by after performing a euthanasia before talking to someone about what you’ve experienced.
Connection and story sharing are effective tools to help us manage compassion fatigue. As professional helpers, we’re exposed to trauma, loss, and death every single day. Too many of us are carrying around the accumulated stories and emotions of our work days, without a healthy outlet to express, process, and release what we’ve witnessed or experienced. But we need to share in skillful ways or we’ll amplify difficult emotions.
This is where various kinds of debriefing come in handy. Here are four ways we can incorporate healthy sharing into our work and personal lives:
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