Post-Traumatic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence: A Handbook of Research and Practice

By Vittoria Ardino | Go to book overview

Chapter Twenty-One
Compassion Fatigue, Vulnerability, and
Resilience in Practitioners Working with
Traumatized Children

Charles R. Figley, Cheri Lovre, and Kathleen Regan Figley


Introduction

In this penultimate chapter in a book on understanding and helping traumatized children, it is important to understand and help the practitioners who help traumatized children. So here we focus on the costs and benefits of working with traumatized children, day after day, and the ways in which practitioners can increase and maintain their resilience.

Reports of child trauma practitioners, excluding child protection workers, are rare and not reported in the literature because the practitioners love their jobs and know they are appreciated. Rather, they report symptoms similar to PTSD. These symptoms are now called secondary traumatic stress reactions (STS) or compassion fatigue. In addition to reviewing the compassion fatigue theory and research, this chapter suggests practical ways child trauma experts can enjoy their work and practice self-care to minimize their vulnerability and maximize their resilience.

We share in life’s sadness and stressors with one of the most vulnerable beings, particularly children who survived abuse (Jenmorri, 2006). We must understand when no one else might. We often stand – literally and figuratively – between our clients and the cruelties they face daily. This comes at an emotional cost. The cost is worth it, of course. Most of us love our jobs and our life’s work. But perhaps some perspective offered here may ensure that the cost is reduced. The price is too high when practitioners develop compassion fatigue STS reactions from their work with traumatized children.

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