Taking a Closer Look at One’s Helping Hands
As mental health providers how often do we ask ourselves, “How am I doing?” I imagine not often enough. However, compassion fatigue or burnout can be experienced even by the most dedicated and insightful clinicians. Our occupational responsibility is to offer a helping hand, but it's also our ethical responsibility to look at our hands for a quick assessment of their health. Are they cracked? Are they dry? Are there any scrapes or cuts? What needs to be done to better take care of them.
elf-assessment is vital for those in the helping field. Not only do we owe it to ourselves to ensure we are emotionally and physically healthy, but we also owe it to our patients. Although it is important to eat well, exercise, and engage in pleasurable activities, I'm not sure it's enough when we devote our lives to connecting with the experiences of others. It only takes a few minutes to do a quick self-assessment now and then. Am I content with my job? Am I feeling exhausted? Am I having difficulty concentrating? Am I cynical at work? What am I like with my loved ones after a long day at work?
One quick self-assessment measure that I've found very helpful as a clinician is the ProQol. It allows you to take a quick snapshot of how you are doing at the moment and whether there are things you need to do to better take care of yourself. It is a 30- item measure developed by Stamm (2009) that highlights negative and positive aspects of helping others. The measure's three subscales include compassion satisfaction, burnout, and compassion fatigue.
The measure, including an interpretation of the scores, is open to the public and can be downloaded for free at: http://proqol.org/ProQol_Test.html.
It's a simple tool I would recommend to any provider working in the helping field. Let's all take a closer look at our own hands!
Stamm, B.H. (2009). Professional Quality of Life. Retrieved from: www.proqol.org on December 17, 2012.