Traumatologist Charles Figley, widely acknowledged as the founding father of compassion fatigue, emphasized that compassion fatigue among people caring for others and exposed to trauma is the physical and emotional cost of caring for those who have experienced trauma.
Figley and others highlight, effective care for clients that have experienced trauma is centered on helping the client to cope with the traumatic experience and is dependent upon the care professional’s use of empathy.
Although unintended, the use of empathy may result in an erosion of empathy, or hearing of or being exposed to a persons experience of trauma may increase stress and vulnerability to the body’s natural response to an indirect experience of trauma. An indirect experience of trauma in this context, is outlined in the DSM5 criteria for Trauma and mirrors the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) which can negatively affect care professional’s exposed to trauma physically, socially, and emotionally.
Such negative effects compromise well-being, interactions, relationships, life, and capacity to fully engage with and care for others that has experienced trauma.