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Compassion Fatigue vs. Burn-out: 3 Tools That May Help

depressed photoDo you know what compassion fatigue is? If yes, where did you hear the term?

What do you think the term means?

For many people who work in the helping profession as well as social service jobs like policing or FBI work compassion fatigue is likely to occur at some point in their lives. For those, such as myself, who work in the helping profession, compassion fatigue might also accompany burn-out.

It isn’t surprising that some individuals who care for the well-being of family members who have medical or mental health conditions also experience compassion fatigue and burn-out.

In this article, I will be discussing compassion fatigue and burnout as both of these terms tend to mean different things.

I’m a firm believer that caregivers, parents, spouses, and even divorcees experience compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue, as defined in the video, often results from vicarious trauma (watching someone else experience a traumatic event) or emotional and psychological distress. Compassion fatigue is often accompanied by symptoms of burn-out such as psychological, emotional, and physiological symptoms (i.e., depression, exhaustion, anger or irritability, frequent cold symptoms, “false alarm” symptoms, etc).

I once saw a woman who had what I like to call “false alarm symptoms.” She appeared to be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. But little did I know, she was staying up all night, researching the symptoms of her mother, and taking “uppers” or stimulants throughout the day. A combination of no sleep and stimulant medication that wasn’t prescribed is a recipe for disaster.

Burnout is often characterized by stress and distress that has resulted from overworking or “overindulgence” in a stressful area of life.

I discuss both concepts below and offer the following tips for those who feel overwhelmed, fatigued, and discouraged. There are 3 tools I encourage you to try which includes:

  1. Mindfulness “meditation” or quiet-time which includes bringing your awareness, for a short period of time, to yourself.
  2. Mindful eating (taking your time and enjoying the experience without rushing). This has always been difficult for me!
  3. Mindful walking. This includes taking a walk and soaking in all of your surroundings and avoiding the urge to “get it over with.”



So what do you think of these tools? Are you going to try them?

As always, I welcome your experiences and your questions.

I wish you well

Compassion Fatigue vs. Burn-out: 3 Tools That May Help

Támara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPC

Támara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPC, is a licensed therapist and internationally certified trauma professional, in private practice, who specializes in working with children and adolescents who suffer from mood disorders, trauma, and disruptive behavioral disorders. She also provides international consultations and works with some young and older adults struggling with grief & loss or life transitions. Hill strives to help clients to realize and actualize their strengths in their home environments and in their relationships within the community. She credits her career passion to a “divine calling” and is internationally recognized for corresponding literary works as well as appearances on radio and other media platforms. She is an author, family consultant, Keynote speaker, and founder of Anchored Child & Family Counseling. Visit her at Anchored-In-Knowledge or Twitter and Youtube Youtube If you are interested in scheduling a telehealth family consultation, feel free to let me know.

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APA Reference
Hill, T. (2018). Compassion Fatigue vs. Burn-out: 3 Tools That May Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Mar 2018
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