Professional Caregivers, such as physicians, nurses, psychologists, counselors, social workers, teachers, and anyone whose primary job is taking care of others, have the highest rate of job burnout of all the professions. Left unaddressed, burnout can progress to the very serious syndrome known as Compassion Fatigue, which shares many of the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Compassion Fatigue is often characterized by:

  • Exhaustion
  • Reduced ability to feel sympathy and empathy
  • Anger and irritability
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • Dread of working with certain clients/patients
  • Diminished sense of enjoyment of career
  • Disruption to world view,
  • Heightened anxiety or irrational fears
  • Intrusive imagery or dissociation
  • Hypersensitivity or Insensitivity to emotional material
  • Difficulty separating work life from personal life
  • Absenteeism – missing work, taking many sick days
  • Impaired ability to make decisions and care for clients/patients
  • Problems with intimacy and in personal relationships


In addition to emotional exhaustion, reduced concentration and impaired job performance, Compassion Fatigue increases the risk of physical illness, accidents, clinical depression, and damage to personal relationships. Burnout and Compassion Fatigue can occur at any stage of professional development. Personality style, professional training and environment, level of stress, support mechanisms in personal life, and other factors affect vulnerability to these soul-killing conditions.


Even the healthiest practitioner can be taxed by certain situations or series of events that make us question our ability or commitment to the work of caring.


Self-care is fundamental to safeguarding your health from Burnout and Compassion Fatigue. We recommend that those in helping professions: Seek consultation for challenging cases; engage in healthy, relaxing down time activities; maintain a boundary between work and personal life. However, we also realize that, for caregivers, these may be easier said than done; just more “shoulds” on the to-do list that is already too long.

If you dread going to work, feel exhausted every day, unsatisfied, overwhelmed and sick of the whole thing, please don’t wait. Call today for a consultation.