New Article on Family Caregivers and Compassion Fatigue

When the Juggling Act Isn’t Working: 5 Key Strategies to Reduce Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

Françoise Mathieu has a new article on Compassion Fatigue in caregivers. Recently published in The Family Caregiver NewsMagazine, free, courtesy of the South East Community Care Access Centre.

Read here Fall 2016 Family Caregiver Newsmagazine





Transforming Trauma: The Journey of one Woman

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Care4You Conference June 3-4th, 2014

Workshop: Transforming Trauma – The Journey of one Woman 

with Deborah A. Sinclair, Social Worker


In her 35 years of practice with trauma survivors and the allies who support them, Deborah Sinclair has witnessed the deep emotional and cognitive impact on our bodies, hearts, minds and spirits, and the pervasiveness of vicarious traumatization (VT) for helpers/clinicians/allies. She has also noted, as with trauma survivors, that this vicarious traumatization can lay the foundation for vicarious resilience and posttraumatic growth. This is a good news story that can provide hope to all of us in our moments of quiet despair.

In this presentation, Deborah Sinclair will present the latest research findings that have relevance for mitigating vicarious traumatization in our personal and our professional lives and deepen our understanding of what facilitates vicarious resilience and post-traumatic growth. What inspires each of us to perform as our best selves in the  pursuit of excellence?

The presenter: 

Deborah Sinclair is a social worker in independent practice in Toronto, ON. Over her 35 year involvement in social justice work, Deborah has worked in many different capacities – clinician, writer, speaker, trainer, researcher, and expert witness. Deborah is a founding member of the Emily Stowe Shelter for Women, Women We Honour Task Force on Intimate Femicide and Luke’s Place. In January 2003, she was appointed to the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC), an expert advisory committee of the Ontario Chief Coroner’s office that reviews all intimate partner homicides/suicides in Ontario. Deborah works as a resource to assist professionals and advocates working with high risk populations to deal with vicarious trauma and resilience in their work settings including crown attorneys, family law lawyers,  police officers, paramedics,  health care providers, teachers, child welfare workers and  shelter staff. Deborah facilitates debriefings for individuals and groups experiencing a critical incident, and mediates to resolve staff conflicts, manage staff expectations and transform work settings into supportive, high performing sites of excellence. Deborah is the YWCA 2010 Woman of Distinction for Social Justice and is currently a Ph.D candidate at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto.

 Click here for more information about the Care4You Conference

Compassion Fatigue in Healthcare: Insight from the Frontlines

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Care4You Conference June 3-4th, 2014

Compassion Fatigue in Health Care: Insight from the Frontlines

Working in health care has become more complex in the past decade: a rapidly ageing population, decrease in resources, increased workload from a perfect recipe for overload, burnout and compassion fatigue. In this plenary presentation, 3 nurses join forces to share their combined 50+ years of experience in caring for patients and discuss what they have learned about the importance of caring for each other.

Riding the emotional rollercoaster with patients

Jennifer Juneau, RN, Life Coach

Courage Coach

Jennifer Juneau has been a Registered Nurse for 18 years with combined experience in the Operating Room, fertility and women’s health. She recently became a Solution Focused Life Coach and specializes in fertility coaching and health and wellness coaching.

Education for next-generation frontline staff

Karen Mayer, RN, BEd, MAEd

Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School Board

Karen Mayer is a Registered Nurse with 30 years of healthcare experience in both hospital (Chronic Care, Maternity and ER) and was co-owner of a private, thriving home care business for seven years. She returned to school twelve years ago to obtain BEd and MAEd and has been teaching Personal Support Workers (PSWs) at Loyola School of Adult and Continuing Education for the past ten years. As a twelve year member of the Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators (CESBA), she has been Chair of the PSW committee for the past three years. Having experienced Compassion Fatigue, Karen developed a bucket list. Multi-tasker that she is, she knocked off two items from her bucket list, working in a mission and working with Patch Adams by completing a mission trip to Guatemala with Patch Adams.

Improving Morale by Supporting Each Other

Romney Pierog, RN

Kingston General Hospital

Romney Pierog has been a frontline Registered Nurse for 15 years with over 11 years in critical care experience. She currently works at Kingston General Hospital. She also has a degree in English literature and psychology from Carleton University.

Romney is currently working on a project where she has been interviewing frontline staff, management and patients on morale and satisfaction. She is looking at improving morale by improving communication and by recognizing the obstacles posed by stress, compassion fatigue and burnout.

 Click here for more info about the conference

Being Healthy: It’s all about Perspective

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Care4You Conference June 3-4th, 2014

Plenary Session: Being Healthy – It’s all about Perspective

Take a quick look at any magazine stand at your local supermarket – the headlines are either about celebrities or weight loss (or both at the same time):  “Flat abs in two weeks”, “Miracle new pill that lets you lose weight while you sleep”, “Huge muscles” (for men) and “Strong and toned, but not too bulky” (for women). Doesn’t it get a little confusing and just a bit overwhelming? What is healthy eating? What does “being fit” really mean?

Exploring the connection between healthy minds and healthy bodies, this session features three experts with a passion for health, inside and out, and a message about keeping your quest for “health” in proper perspective.

Challenging “Self-Care”: The power of changing your attitude toward diet and exercise

Carrie Watson, MSW, RSW

Carrie Watson Counselling, Kingston

Carrie Watson is passionate about working with individuals and families struggling with eating disorders, disordered eating, poor body image, and self-esteem issues. She believes in building confidence from a variety of sources including healthy relationships, meaningful daily practices, self-reflection, and mindful living. Carrie guides her clients to consider how the body can support the life of which they dream, and teaches the value of being gentle and forgiving with one’s self. Carrie has eight years of clinical experience in community settings, and has taught at the high school and college levels. Carrie currently divides her time between her clinical practice at the North Kingston Community Health Centre and her private practice.

Nutrition: The fuel for mental health

Jess Sherman, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Jess Sherman Nutrition, Kingston

Jess Sherman work as a nutritionist, primarily with mothers and families. She started her career as a teacher and earned degrees from McGill, Queen’s, and UofT.  But found that the classroom was not where she could most effectively help children. So she left to study nutrition and developed a particular interest in the connection between food and development/behaviour.  Jess coaches her clients in how to use food to help their children and themselves thrive. She also coaches parents around issues of self-care through her MamaCare program.

Be kind to your body: Who said fitness had to be punishing?

Renee Whitney, Personal Trainer, Owner of Focus Personal Fitness Studio

Focus Personal Fitness Studio, Kingston

Renee Whitney has an honours degree in sports psychology and is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. With over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry, Renee is the owner of a very successful fitness studio in Kingston. At Focus, the emphasis is on using proper form to prevent injury, and on whole-person health and lifestyle changes.

Click here for more information

Managing Intense Stress

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Care4You Conference June 3-4th, 2014

Plenary Session: Managing Intense Stress

Sometimes life can be intensely stressful. Managing it all can be very hard, and yet some people just seem to keep it all together.  Ever wondered how they do it?  These three experts want to teach you some of the ways to hold your ground, even when life, work and family are at their most demanding. Come and hear three perspectives on managing difficult times while connecting with hope and gratitude.

Taking Care of Business:  Understanding how the past impacts the present

Vic Unruh, therapist and consultant 

HeartStories Unlimited, Winnipeg

Vic Unruh is a private practice therapist working primarily with families who are engaged with child protection agencies. Vic has worked with children, parents and families struggling with separation, reunification and prevention. He has also been a workshop facilitator with several family resource centres, schools, child protection agencies and conferences on a variety of topics focusing on family preservation.

Irest: A tool for managing extreme trauma and stress

Bill McLaughlin, clinical psychotherapist

Kingston Institute of Psychotherapy & Neurofeedback

Integrative restoration (Irest) is a simple but powerful guided meditation developed from a three thousand year old yoga practice. Irest was developed by Clinical Psychologist Dr. Richard Miller in conjunction with the U.S. Military to address the negative impacts on the human body and mind from intense stress. Since its development, research has shown demonstrated success with people who suffer PTSD, anxiety, depression and with specific populations. Students, sufferers of chronic pain, people who are homeless and corporate executives have all demonstrated improved well-being and reduced indicators of stress with the practice of iRest.

Bill McLaughlin is a Clinical Psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of traumatic stress. Bill has been in private practice for six years providing services to Veterans, active duty military, and law enforcement professionals. Bill is also a Professor at St Lawrence College where he teaches an on-line course he developed on traumatic stress. Bill is an accomplished researcher and considered one of the most knowledgeable clinicians in the area of the assessment, treatment, and recovery from traumatic stress.

Changing the Focus: Embracing gratitude


Cathy Mosole, counselor & chaplaincy

Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board

Cathy Mosole has worked in the Domestic Violence, Child Welfare, Children’s Mental Health, Policing Fields, and for the past 10 years in the Education Field.

Click here for more information


Beyond Kale and Pedicures…What works to manage compassion fatigue?

Every day this week, we are sharing with you some highlights of the upcoming Compassion Fatigue Care4You Conference June 3-4th, 2014.

The conference will open with a presentation called Beyond Kale and Pedicures….What Works to Manage Compassion Fatigue? with Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed, CCC. Compassion Fatigue Specialist and author of “The Compassion Fatigue Workbook”

Since the mid 1990s, an entire new industry of wellness has emerged: workshops, books, retreats and videos, all aiming to assist professional caregivers and other helping professionals reduce compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. Many workplaces jumped on the bandwagon early and started encouraging self-help strategies in their staff. Human resource departments began running workshops for staff on healthy eating, work-life balance and “stress busting”. Some organizations implemented regular fitness breaks and staff appreciation days.

Sounds great, right? The problem is that it didn’t really work – many staff stayed away, rates of burnout did not decrease significantly and staff morale continued its downward spiral. To be fair, it made sense for workplaces to focus on self-care – it was inexpensive, easily implemented and it didn’t require major systemic change. It was something concrete they could do. But maybe the solution to compassion fatigue and burnout is a little more complicated…

This presentation will discuss new research which suggests that in order to reduce compassion fatigue and burnout, we need to adopt a multi-pronged approach. Helpers, on their own, cannot be expected to fix an entire system. They do however remain responsible for their own well-being – it is an ethical responsibility, for themselves, their clients and the community in which they live.

So, how do we make this work? Join us for an exploration of where we are at, 20 years after the birth of this field.

Click here for more information

Meghan Telpner has spark! A Healthy Living Blog To Watch

I just ate a delicious kale salad in an airport – how great is that! A few years ago, the best you could do while travelling was fill yourself up with peanuts and pretzels. Today, as I am making my way to Hawaii for a conference, I was able to get a healthy sugar-free smoothie in Toronto, this beautiful salad in Vancouver and, I’m sure, lots of good fish waiting for me in Honolulu. The other day I noticed that Jugo Juice at Union Station in Toronto now offers healthy oatmeal with hemp seeds, chia and oatmeal groats. Now if only YVR had a yoga studio…here’s to hoping, maybe in a few years! Healthy eating is clearly mainstream now and more easily available, certainly in major city centres. It’s impressive.

Meghan Telpner is a Toronto-based Nutritionist and the author of the popular new book “Undiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health,” She is also one of our star keynote speakers at this year’s Care4You Compassion Fatigue Conference June 3-4, 2014. I love her weekly video blog. It’s fun, a little saucy and full of great healthy living advice. But what I like most of all is that she doesn’t judge and encourages people to embrace one change at a time – no diets, no “cheat days” just making changes gradually and consciously.

I can’t wait to have her at our conference!

Off to Honolulu now. Mahalo!

To view Meghan’s blog, click here



Pitch the diet, toss the labels


I was vegetarian for nearly 25 years – I avoided meat for humanitarian and health reasons and I felt very comfortable with my choices. I don’t think that I was strident – I didn’t impose my diet on others and I was fine with meat being served in my home. Yet, I got a lot of flack from omnivores over the years. I always thought it was strange, as I didn’t criticize their eating choices, but somehow it seemed ok for meat eaters to ask a vegetarian to justify protein sources and explain why I made this choice. I always wondered why meat eaters didn’t have to justify eating factory farmed meat, but I didn’t say anything. Really, the dude eating kraft dinner for lunch and a hot dog for supper doesn’t have to explain his choice, but if I have falafels for dinner, I have to give a treatise on it? Come on.

I know that it wasn’t their aim, but comments from omnivores and vegetarians also made me feel hemmed in, as if I couldn’t eat one little piece of meat even if I wanted to, ever. Then I began struggling with low iron, and started thinking about changing my diet, but part of me felt that I couldn’t start adding meat protein – that I would get no end of hassle for it, from both sides of the debate. Seven years ago, I began running half marathons and I found that I really needed some animal protein in my diet to sustain my energy (I know this isn’t everyone’s situation, that there are some very successful vegan ultra marathoners etc.) but for me, it definitely was the case. So I added grass-fed organic chicken to my diet, and I felt immediately better, had more energy, and wasn’t hungry all the time. Hurrah! Over time, I started including more organic local meat in my diet, and now I eat a balance of whatever foods are good for my specific needs. I still consume a primarily vegetarian diet, with lots of organic plants, seeds, nuts, some local grass fed meat, and I feel great.

There is a lot out there about healthy eating these days: Veganism, vegetarianism, paleo, gluten free, mediterranean… It can all get a bit confusing and overwhelming. It’s fine to experiment with various ways of eating and seeing what works best for your particular needs, but it’s just as important to make sure that these choices don’t become a rigid box you can’t work your way out of. Some high profile raw vegan bloggers recently received death threats (I kid you not) for blogging about their decision to start eating local humanely raised meat. Imagine the courage it took for them to “come out” as no longer vegan! And on the other side, large food corporations are trying to brainwash us into thinking that their new super-refined “gluten free” breads are healthy. What a zoo! How confusing!

Nutritionist Meghan Telpner recently posted a great video discussion about this called “How do I ditch the guilt over changing my diet?”

The challenge, Meghan says, is figuring out what is right for you at this particular time in your life, getting rid of labels altogether and being willing to adjust and revise your choices along the way. Check out her great videoblog about this by clicking here.