Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Sciences (MSFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

Abstract

Characterized as a loss of empathy, compassion fatigue is experienced by many in the helping professions. Also known as secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue occurs when those in the helping professions experience trauma through interacting with the traumatic experiences of the people they are helping. Previous literature has found the development of compassion fatigue to be inevitable due to the amount of empathy those professionals must utilize on a daily basis. Mindfulness practices, such as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) have been found to be a helpful learning tool for those in the helping professions to reduce their levels of stress. Using a convenience sample of 74 therapists, the present study utilized attachment as a framework for exploring factors of predicting and preventing compassion fatigue. Attachment styles in romantic relationships was predicted to be associated with the development of compassion fatigue, while mindfulness levels were predicted to be preventative in the development of compassion fatigue. Findings indicated that levels of compassion fatigue were higher for females, and that higher levels of mindfulness was associated with lower levels of compassion fatigue for both males and females. Implications for therapists, supervisors, and therapists-in-training are addressed.

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