• Lack of information about how the
job fits the big picture.
What's important here? When people ignore or deny feelings—when they
are encouraged to ignore or deny basic
needs—those feelings will surface anyway and can exacerbate rather than
arrest or prevent feelings of isolation
WHAT DOES WORK
Positive Psychology encourages you to
replace negative feelings with positive
ones. The idea is to shed one painful
belief about self at a time. Once considered fringe frivolity, Positive Psychology
principles and practices are now
acknowledged as firmly rooted in the
human drive to survive, bond with
others, and be happy.
Positive Psychology interventions
have been effective in resilience training.
Resilient people have a higher threshold
When it comes to compas- sion fatigue, there are as many triggers as there are individuals, and as
many symptoms. One person may be
philosophical about the inevitability of
research animal endpoints, another may
become increasingly sad, yet another
may grieve each animal's death.
Given the range of responses among
animal care staff, and the difficulty of
predicting when, under what circumstances and who will suffer compassion
fatigue, must we work one on one to
prevent and treat it? Not at all. We can
design interventions to prevent and ease
compassion fatigue among a large number of very different people by setting
aside individual differences and designing interventions based on meeting
needs common to all.
In this article, I set out some organizational practices that have helped
individuals, groups and managers prevent compassion fatigue and reduce
turnover—even in large research organizations.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK
These actions, well-meaning as they
may be, do not prevent or arrest a trajectory toward burnout.
• Telling people not to have the feelings
• Advising people to accept the status quo
and be strong.
• Managerial hypocrisy; vows of respect
that aren't backed up by actions,
which ultimately are patronizing,
insulting, demoralizing and counterproductive.
• Lack of ordinary benefits such as sick
days with pay and health insurance.
Before They Leave
How Management Practice May Prevent and
Ease Compassion Fatigue
of pain, perform even in difficult circumstances, accept their strengths and mistakes, and pay attention/solve problems
even under stress.
The following are often elements of
resilience training. A person who undertakes just one of these activities is highly
likely to reduce stress and improve work/
• Three Good Things: Each evening,
write down three good things that happened in the day. This act of writing
along with thoughts of positive experience, together produce a sense of
centeredness and well-being that blurs
the day's stress.
• Express Gratification: Write down or
speak out loud your feelings of gratification. You may express gratitude to
someone, to yourself; the statement
may be public or private.
• Undertake Deliberate Acts of
Kindness: Deliberate acts of kindness—
picking up a stray paper on the ground,