Rethinking compassion fatigue through the lens of professional identity : the case of child protection workers
Series/Report no.Trauma, Violence, & Abuse;Vol. 17, no 3
Compassion fatigue is currently the dominant model in work-related stress studies that explain the consequences of caring for others on child-protection workers. Based on a deterministic approach, this model excludes the role of cognition a priori and a posteriori in the understanding of the impact of caregiving or providing social support. By integrating the notion of professional identity, this article adds a subjective perspective to the compassion fatigue model allowing for the consideration of positive outcomes and takes into account the influence of stress caused by accountability. Mainly, it is argued that meanings derived from identity and given to situations may protect or accelerate the development of compassion fatigue or compassion satisfaction. To arrive at this proposition, the notions of compassion fatigue and identity theory are first reviewed. These concepts are then articulated around four work-related stressors specific to child-protection work. In light of this exercise, it is argued that professional identity serves as a subjective interpretative framework that guides the understanding of work-related situations. Therefore, compassion fatigue is not only a simple reaction to external stimuli. It is influenced by meanings given to the situation. Furthermore, professional identity modulates the impact of compassion fatigue on psychological well-being. Practice, policy, and research implications in light of these findings are also discussed
Geoffrion, S., Morselli, C. & Guay, S. (2016). Rethinking compassion fatigue through the lens of professional identity: the case of child protection workers. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 17(3), 270-283.