Compassion Fatigue

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion Fatigue is the term used to describe the situation that occurs when a parent experiences extreme stress associated with parenting a child with trauma.  The parent finds it impossible to maintain the intense nurture and empathy required to maintain a commitment to the child or young person.  This can also be called “blocked care” (Hughes and Baylin 2012). Compassion Fatigue (blocked care) results in parents being unable to connect with their child.  It recognises the biological changes that take place, as a result of stress, and the damaging effects this can have on the parent and the child, particularly their ongoing relationship.

Research funded by Fostering Attachments shows that parents suffering from Compassion Fatigue feel some or all of the following:

  • Isolation
  • Exhaustion
  • Judged and blamed
  • Unsupported
  • Resentment towards child
  • Disconnect from child
  • Inability to provide anything other than basic care

Compassion Fatigue can be distressing for all the family and without a careful and supportive approach can lead to family disruption.   We know that it is a lonely place and leaves individuals desperate for a way out.  It can destroy confidence, relationships and whole families.

Key elements to avoid or resolve Compassion Fatigue are:

  • Supervision
  • Training
  • Peer support
  • Professional Support
  • Empathic Listening
  • Therapeutic support
  • Empathy

True Fostering prides itself on their awareness of Compassion Fatigue and early intervention.