A gratitude post


This will be a brief post as I am packing things up to head up North for the holidays. Just wanted to share a few update and send some thanks out before going off to the big turkey/Cashew nut roast fest. I will be off on vacation until January 4, though if we finally get snow, I will extend my leave to January 9th.

There are many exciting things happening at Compassion Fatigue Solutions in the New Year: Our book launch in Kingston and Toronto, a Webinar series, and an amazing Conference in June. I will be heading to the East coast several times in the coming months (Halifax and St John’s, looking forward to meeting you!). I will also be presenting in Montreal and Toronto for the Hincks Dellcrest and offering Walking the Walk and the Compassion Fatigue Train the trainer  right here at home in Kingston in March. If you haven’t had a chance to experience our one day Walking the Walk workshop, please come and give yourself the gift of a day for you.

A Word of Thanks

If you have met me in person before, you will likely know that I am deeply passionate about my work. I have had the most amazing past ten years working in the field of compassion fatigue education and have met some wonderful people along the way.

Many of them have become close colleagues, sources of support and timely feedback and intellectual exchange. So my first thanks, at the end of this year, is to all of you who email me with ideas and resources, who connect with me as they come across something new and interesting and who get in touch with ideas and feedback either through email on by posting comments on this website. Thanks also to those of you who were able to come to the June Compassion Fatigue Conference. What a special two days that was. We can only hope to implement real changes if we work together and support one another in this community. We know that tough times are likely ahead (more budget cuts etc.) and when helpers get squeezed, we unfortunately tend to turn on each other, which further feeds the toxicity and makes us feel worse. We need to find even more ways to forge this network of support.

My second thank you goes to the pioneers in the field of compassion fatigue/vicarious trauma research. They were visionaries and their work created the framework for the rest of us. Thank you to Dr Charles Figley, who is truly the founding father of compassion fatigue research; Drs Eric Gentry and Anna Baranowsky, who worked as his graduate students and made important contributions to the field; Dr Beth Stamm, who created the Proqol compassion fatigue self-test; Drs Laurie Ann Pearlman and Karen Saakvitne, who coined the term Vicarious Trauma and who wrote the invaluable little book that got my work started. Dr Babette Rothschild, who offered us much-needed strategies to protect ourselves when doing trauma work. Thanks to all of you for your quality work and the inspiration you have offered me through your wonderful books.

As this year winds down, I want to send very special thank you to my dearest friend and colleague Robin Cameron. About ten years ago, Robin and I met through serendipity: We were asked to collaborate in developing a workshop on unhealthy relationships for university students. We met and felt instant kinship – have you ever had that experience? Our meeting, which was meant to be an hour long, turned into a 3-4 hour chat about many things related to the work that we both did, (counselling with individuals in crisis) and eventually turned to the cost of caring. Our first complaint was that we had not been exposed to the concepts of Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma in our training, and couldn’t seem to find a workshop to attend on the topic. Our second complaint was that many of the workshops we were attending, as mental health counsellors, were – sorry to say it – but they were severely lacking. Not enough hands-on strategies for front-line workers like ourselves and too much “death by powerpoint” (well, they were acetates in those days, but you know what I mean). So, Robin and I decided to put together a compassion fatigue workshop in our community, using the invaluable book “Transforming the Pain” by Laurie Ann Pearlman and Karen Saakvitne and Charles Figley & Beth Stamm’s work. We spent the next five or so years learning everything we could about compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma – it was a true collaborative process with many many laughs and good times along the way. There is nothing like having someone to debrief a workshop with, at the end of the day. We developed the early version of the “Walking the Walk” workshop together, trying to find the best way to offer a truly validating and strategy-filled experience for our deeply emotionally exhausted audiences. It was an immense amount of work, involving many bagels and cream cheese, hundreds of hours of reading and sharing and at times making a passionate case for the inclusion of one element or another  (If you have met us, you’ll know this is true, we tend to get intense at times. At least I do. Well, Robin does too. We are not neutral about compassion fatigue 🙂 ). Robin now works as a Solution-Focused Coach, specialising in working with helping professionals who are suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue and with those who are looking for a change of direction in their career.  Check out her website!  So, Robin, my lovely friend, a huge thank you for everything.

Is there anyone you would like to thank? Feel free to post it here as a comment.

See you in 2012!



One Response to A gratitude post

  1. Wow, blush…

    When I first met Francoise I knew that something special had happened to me. It was a challenge at first to feel deserving of such an inspired partnership. My cup runneth over and I am ever grateful to her for her friendship, peer supervision and professional support. If you have had a chance to work with her and attend one of her workshops you know how she can make the sun shine! If you had not had that chance to attend a workshop, I agree, give yourself a gift and spend a day or two with her.

    And the question on everyone’s lips…Francoise, the snow is falling, when will you be running your workshops in the Southern Hemisphere? Happy new year. See you at the book launch!

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