Helping the helpers : a study of compassion fatigue, burnout and compassion satisfaction in a depression helpline volunteer group
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BA Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Previous studies have shown that Compassion Fatigue and Burnout are hazards of the helping professions and that Compassion Satisfaction, Perceived Organisational Support and Self-Care counteracts these hazards (Figley 1995, Rothschild, 2006). This study examined levels of Compassion Fatigue, Burnout and Compassion Satisfaction in a group of depression helpline volunteers working in an Irish Charitable Organisation. It also investigated Perceived Organisational Support and Self-Care as factors influencing these variables. The final objective was to look at how satisfied the group are with the current supports and what kind of self-care supports this volunteer group wanted the organisation to provide. A survey method was used that combined the ProQol-IV -R Quality of Life Scale (Rothschild, 2006) and the Eisenberger Perceived organisational Support Scale-Short Version (Eisenberger et al., 1986) with qualitative questions chosen by the organisation involved. The study found that this group showed significantly lower than average levels of Compassion Fatigue and Burnout and slightly higher than average levels of Compassion Satisfaction. There was a very high level of Perceived Organisational Support and a high level of awareness of Self-Care in this group, and it is proposed that these factors are contributing to the very low levels of Compassion Fatigue and Burnout. This information has value to the organisation as an assessment of the current risk of Burnout and Compassion Fatigue and an indicator of how the volunteer population feel they are supported by the organisation. It also provides the organisation with information that can be used to improve self-care and organisational support for this group.