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Tool number four is a four-point compassion fatigue self-assessment tool. As you know, part of the psychology of terrorism is to erode the quality of life of the people attacked. As therapists, you may have experienced some erosion of your own lifestyle as you dealt with clients who are direct victims of terrorist attacks or who have experienced an exacerbation of symptoms, for example, regarding increased anxiety and increased depression. Codes of Ethics state that therapist’s self-awareness is essential. Let’s now look at four areas for you to assess.
Thus, the process of empathizing with a traumatized person helps us understand that person’s experience of being traumatized, but in the process we may be traumatized as well. What decompression techniques do you use to separate from your clients’ feelings? Some therapists visualize that as the client leaves their office, their feelings of empathy that occurred during the session leave as the client physically exits their office, clearing emotional space for the next client. Ask yourself what specific technique do you use to decrease your emotional drain of empathy?
For example, a crime-related traumatization may be very different from your experiences. Yet you may feel that they are sufficiently similar and, as a result, not listen as carefully as perhaps what is needed. Also, you may suggest what worked well for yourself, but which would be ineffective, or at worst inappropriate for your client. Ethically client self-determination and autonomy need to be considered here. For this second self-assessment tool, think of a client who has had an experience similar to your own. Do you feel you perhaps unconsciously had been over-promoting a certain method of coping based on your own experience?
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 4: What are four ways trauma workers are especially vulnerable to compassion fatigue? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Answer Booklet.
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