Researchers first identified compassion fatigue in the 1970s when they recognized certain psychological
symptoms among health care and social service workers. The term “compassion fatigue” was coined in the early 1990’s to describe nurses who worked in emergency care and were experiencing symptoms that were comparable to burnout. It’s often seen as an occupational hazard for those working in helping professions.
Teachers and related service providers are vulnerable to compassion fatigue, which “is characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time, resulting from a combination of burnout and secondary traumatic stress related to vicarious traumatization from repeated exposure to traumatic material.” (Wood et al., 2017)
Abel defined and described the five phases of compassion fatigue, and gave attendees strategies for
building resiliency, and how to take steps towards self care.
The biggest tip she gave attendees was to take opportunities to recharge and refresh. She also told attendees about the various support services available to them through CapitalEAP, such as nutritional counseling, success and life coaching, behavioral workshops and much more.
The meeting was also a chance for the large Itinerant & Related Services and BEARS teams to work on the “inclusion” pillar of the WIDE Initiative. Since the teachers and providers are spread throughout WSWHE BOCES locations and in districts, they don’t often get the opportunity to interact with one another. An inclusion activity called “People Search” helped them to do just that. To start new conversations, bring people together, and maximize opportunities for connection, newly hired staff wore bunny ears and team leaders wore crowns.
Principal of Itinerant and Related Services and Component Classrooms Anne Rode said, “It was a great opportunity for my staff to learn about self care and at the same time get to know each other better.”
CapitalEAP benefits are available to all WSWHE BOCES staff. If staff have questions they are encouraged to speak with their supervisors or WSWHE BOCES Human Resources.