Monday, July 04, 2011

Compassion Fatigue Among Military Chaplains

Today's nytimes linked me to a recent doctoral dissertation on this subject. You can pull up Vance Theodore's entire dissertation, CARE WORK - FACTORS AFFECTING POST 9/11 UNITED STATES ARMY CHAPLAINS: COMPASSION FATIGUE, BURNOUT, COMPASSION SATISFACTION, AND SPIRITUAL RESILIENCY, here. (Kansas State University, 2011) 

"Compassion fatigue" is "the reduced ability of the caregiver to identify and understand the feelings and motives of those with whom they counsel. Because of exposure to traumatic and stressful events, the caregiver has a reduced ability to bear the suffering of others. Compassion fatigue is defined as ―natural consequence behaviors and emotions resulting from knowing about a traumatizing event experienced or suffered by a person. The caregiver is affected by the stress of the others." (16-17)

"Burnout is a condition ―of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment that occur among individuals who do people work‖ (Maslach, 1982, p. 3). It has been described as the constant strain of working with people who are troubled or have concerns. The distress comes from the interactions between the helper and the person being helped. As a concept, it has often been associated with the stresses related to the work environment." (17) 
"Compassion satisfaction is described by Stamm (1999, 2002, 2005) as the ability to gain or receive a sense of meaning or purpose from the help that is given to others, i.e., you enjoy helping others and you enjoy what you are doing. This help can lessen or mitigate the psychological effects caused by compassion fatigue. A chaplain‘s career is in the helping profession. One purpose for helping others is the satisfaction that is derived through service." (17)

For more information see: (center for spiritual leadership).

See the U.S. Army's Virtual Spiritual Fitness Center.