• A qualitative study of counsellors’ experience of compassion fatigue

      Mintz, Rita; Lowther, Marilyn L. (University of Chester, 2012-06)
      According to Figley (1995) there is a cost to caring and professional carers who listen to the traumatic accounts of others’ emotional pain and suffering may feel similar suffering. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative research study is to explore counsellors’ experience of possible compassion fatigue. For the purpose of this investigation semi-structured interviews were conducted as a method of data collection. The constant comparative method was utilised to analyse the data. Findings reveal that despite the overlap, ambiguity and critique found between the terms and components all participants in this study experienced impact or signs that relate to aspects of the compassion fatigue spectrum. Six main categories were identified relating to the: impact, causes, supervision and support, training and continuing professional development, counsellor self-care, and finally issues that arose during counsellors’ reflection following the research interview. Counsellors experienced impact of behavioural, cognitive, emotional and somatic nature, having sense of doubt and issues related to attachment and detachment. Positive impact was experienced by counsellors relating to compassion satisfaction and personal growth. A variety and combination of perceived causes were identified. Positive and negative experiences of supervision and support and training and continuing professional development were experienced. Counsellors’ self-care included methods of distraction, balance and self awareness as being important for the prevention and amelioration of compassion fatigue. Upon reflection counsellors identified a number of significant issues including organisational responsibility for staff welfare, working conditions, employment and financial security.