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what is compassion fatigue

"Compassion fatigue" is a state experienced by those helpers in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it is traumatizing for the helper.


"The helper, in contrast to [those] being helped, is traumatized or suffers through the helper's own efforts to empathize and be compassionate. Often, this leads to poor self care and extreme self sacrifice in the process of helping. Together, this leads to compassion fatigue and symptoms similar to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)." Charles Figley (2005)


who is impacted by compassion fatigue

You don't need to wear a cape to be a hero!! To us, a rescuer is not someone who just "saves," it is also someone who supports others in saving themselves. There are many rescuers out there, heroes, that put their own well-being second. We are here to give a little back to you or what you give to those around you, human or animal. A rescuer can come from any profession or any walk of life.

why seek treatment

Compassion Fatigue is the cost of caring for those we help - it can arise when we do what we do well. It is manageable, but if left unrecognized and untreated, its consequences can be life shattering. Learning the tools for recognizing our own level of stress and burnout, knowing when we are at risk of entering into compassion fatigue, and self care strategies for reducing our risks we care improve the quality of the care we provide and the lives we lead.

compassion fatigue and the animal care community

Compassion fatigue occurs when the delicate line between helping and burnout is lost. Helpers in the animal care community are at notable risk for many reasons. They are faced with a massive volume of animals in need, and the choices made can mean the difference between life or death. There are often limited resources, financially and socially, and animal care helpers are often fighting to be recognized as the first responders they truly are. 

  • a sense of isolation

  • feelings of uselessness

  • relationship conflicts

  • changes in sleep patterns

  • increased use of addictive substances

  • increased anger or irritability

  • an extreme sense of responsibility

  • negative thoughts about self

  • sadness or lack of enjoyment of life

  • resentfulness

  • hopelessness or helplessness

  • avoidance of certain work activities


possible symptoms:

Curious about your level of

compassion fatigue & burnout?


Take the:

Professional Quality of Life Scale (PROQOL)

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