Definitions and Terms - Sarz Sanctuary and Foundation
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Definitions and Terms

Definitions and terms relating to compassion fatigue

A number of terms are used interchangeably to describe the negative effects that can impact people caring for those who have experienced trauma.

A number of terms are used interchangeably to describe the negative effects that can impact people caring for those who have experienced trauma.

Vicarious Trauma (VT) is described as an accumulation of the client’s traumatic material, retained by the care professional while learning of client’s experiences. This can negatively affect the care professional’s beliefs, outlook and view of the world

Countertransference (CT) is experienced when the care professional unconsciously sees themselves in the client’s situation of trauma. The care professional may try to meet their own needs through the client’s experience (consciously or unconsciously), or they may identify with the client in such a way that they are unable to separate themselves from the client’s experience.

Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) is the term used most interchangeably with ‘CF’ as both CF and STS mirror the criteria for PTSD, with the difference between them being the actual experience of the traumatic event(s). In PTSD, the traumatic event is a direct experience, while for STS / CF, the trauma occurs indirectly when the care professional learns of and empathises with the client’s experience of trauma.

Terms Used Interchangeably

Additional terms

Compassion Satisfaction (CS) describes the positive emotions such as feelings of fulfilment, joy or satisfaction that are experienced as a result of caring for others.workplaces and situations. While there is a relationship between compassion fatigue and burnout, burnout can apply to a range of workplace experiences and not just those of care professionals.

Burnout (BO) is a form of physical, emotional and cognitive exhaustion occurring as an outcome of long term stress and strain in highly demanding workplaces and situations. While there is a relationship between compassion fatigue and burnout, burnout can apply to a range of workplace experiences and not just those of care professionals.

Difference 

In the case of people who care for others, the notable differences between burnout and compassion fatigue include that compassion fatigue may occur after a single experience while burnout occurs progressively and worsens over time. Burnout decreases the ability of someone who cares for others to fulfil their goals as a result of high workplace demands, an inundation of tasks or work-related stress and burnout does not directly impact on the ability to empathise with one that has experienced trauma.

Additional Terms

Compassion Fatigue is a natural experience that occurs in the mind, brain and body as a result of exposure to trauma.