How will you navigate the changing landscape of your work?

Has your work changed?

Is there more stress and uncertainty in your job than there used to be?


57% of Canadians report high levels of stress

 1/3 Canadians put work first and let it interfere with family

(Duxbury & Higgins, 2012)


In 1991, according to the Duxbury study on work-life balance, 46% of Canadians reported being satisfied with life. In 2012, it has plummeted to 23%. As many of you know first-hand, the recent economic downturn has led to significant budgetary compressions in the public purse. As a result, many of us working in the helping fields and in the civil service have experienced massive changes: layoffs, reorganizations, job abolitions, changes in mandate, elevated conflict and a lot of uncertainty and fear of what is yet to come. Over the past ten years, I have crisscrossed the country many times to offer compassion fatigue training in nearly every province and territory. During my workshops, I get to meet with public sector employees, health care workers and other helping professionals as well as with management and human resources. Lately, I have been hearing the same words from nearly everyone I meet:  “change”,  “stress”, “conflict”, “uncertainty” and “overload”.

Is this true for you as well?

Read More

TED Talks: Brené Brown on Vulnerability and Shame

Brené Brown touches on elements that are very relevant for anyone struggling with compassion fatigue.

In her first 2010 talk, Brené discusses her research findings on vulnerability. Click here to view.

In the second Ted Talk, Brené talks about shame and about the challenge of dealing with the immense success of her first TED talk. Click here to view. There are some gems in this presentation – watch for the section where she speaks of shame and how men cope, and the other where she discusses the difference between shame and guilt. 

Beautiful, moving work based on years of Dr Brown’s research.


Interview: How to use the Compassion Fatigue Workbook with your students

The Compassion Fatigue WorkbookToday, I am delighted to offer you an interview with Tanea Fortin, a Certified Child and Youth Counsellor and professor in the Child and Youth Worker program at St Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario. Tanea has a wealth of experience working with children and youth, and is no newcomer to Compassion Fatigue education – she attended one of the very first workshops that Robin Cameron and I offered over a decade ago. Since then, Tanea has integrated concepts of self care into all of her teaching. I have had the pleasure of visiting Tanea’s class about once a year to meet her students and answer questions. When the Compassion Fatigue Workbook was published last year, Tanea decided to select it as one of her textbooks for the placement course.  I wanted Tanea to have the opportunity to share with other instructors what she has found useful. Tanea also generously offered to share two of her handouts with us. They are included as downloadable documents in the body of the text. Read More

Workshop on Addiction, Anxiety and Depression with Gabor Maté

Public Service Announcement:

Save the date! More information to follow shortly about registration and cost.

The Harm Reduction Task Force Hastings & Prince Edward is pleased to present speaker and bestselling author Dr. Gabor Maté ADDICTION, ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION on April 17 & 18, 2013 at Maranatha Auditorium, 100 College St West, Belleville

On Wednesday April 17 from 6:30- 9:00 p.m., Dr Maté will be presenting insights surrounding his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Close Encounters with Addiction. In this timely and profoundly original book, Dr. Maté looks at the epidemic of various addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them and outlines what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold. Starting with a dramatically close view of Maté’s drug addicted patients.

On Thursday April 18 from 9:00 a.m. to noon, Dr. Maté will be presenting The Myth of Normal Depression, Anxiety and Addictions from a New Perspective. His presentation will explore the causes and “normality” of depression, anxiety and addictions in our society.  He will talk about mental illness and how it continues to be a subject of misapprehension, prejudice and stigmatization.


For questions please contact Hastings County Social Services.  

New Year – new projects

Hi, I’m back! It’s been a while since I have had the chance to write a post. The Fall turned into a bit of a whirlwind and time ran away from me. I have a lot of things to share with you in terms of upcoming events and training resources but I will let you know about these in a couple of days as I am waiting for one event registration to go live on the website before I make the announcement – so please come back in a few days. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments, so don’t be shy to email me a note or post a comment on the blog.

This was a very rewarding Fall for me professionally and a challenging one on the personal front: I had the chance to travel to Los Angeles twice to work with some wonderful people in the field of child welfare (and make some new friends along the way), Read More

Changing Landscape Workshop Postponed to the Fall 2013

Just a quick note to let you know that the workshop “Navigating the Changing Landscape” orginally scheduled for January 2013 has been postponed to the Fall of 2013. We are currently looking at dates and will post them by the end of the week. Apologies for any inconvenience but some circumstances beyond our control have made it necessary to change the date.

Get up, stand up, stand up for your life!

According to Statistics Canada, only 15 per cent of adults and 7 per cent of children meet the minimum recommended physical activity guidelines every day.  André Picard

Someone recently said to me “I can’t get on the floor and play with my pets anymore, my hips are so stiff” and this person was only in his mid fifties.

You’ve probably seen the most recent research findings on how our sedentary lifestyle is really harmful to our health. It’s been all over the media lately. The Globe and Mail’s André Picard wrote an article this week where he quipped “sitting is the new smoking”. The short version of the findings are this: sitting for long stretches of time is bad for you, so you should get up and move at least 2 minutes for every 20 that you sit. Better yet, get a standing desk if you’re a desk jockey. Read More

Selected Bibliography for Child Protection Workers

 Journal articles on Compassion Fatigue/Vicarious Trauma and Child Protection

For an extensive bibliography, please visit the Child Welfare Information gateway: Secondary Trauma in the Child Welfare Workforce 2000-present. Compiled bibliography:

Bennett, S., Plint, A., & Clifford, T.J. (2005) Burnout, psychological morbidity, job satisfaction, and stress: a survey of Canadian hospital based child protection professionals. Arch. Dis. Child. 90; 1112-1116.

Conrad, D. & Kellar-Guenther, Y. (2003) Compassion Fatigue, burnout and compassion satisfaction among Colorado child protection workers. Child Abuse & Neglect 30(2006) 1071-1080.

Osofksy, J. (2009) Perspectives on helping traumatized infants, young children and their families. Infant mental health journal. Vol. 30(6), 673-677.


Books/Articles on Compassion Fatigue/Vicarious Trauma/Trauma

Baranowsky, A. (2002). The silencing response in clinical practice: On the road to dialogue. In C.R. Figley (Ed.), Treating compassion fatigue. New York: Brunner/Routledge.

Bober, T. & Regehr, C. (2005) Strategies for Reducing Secondary or Vicarious Trauma: Do They Work? Brief treatment and crisis intervention advance access, Dec 30, 2005.

Courtois, C.A., & Ford, J.D. (2009). Treating complex traumatic stress disorders. New York: Guilford Press.

Figley, C.R. (Ed.). (1995). Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Figley, C.R. (Ed.). (2002). Treating compassion fatigue. New York: Brunner/Routledge.

Gentry, E. (2002). Compassion fatigue: A crucible of transformation. Journal of Trauma Practice, 1(3/4), 37–61. Note: To obtain a PDF of this article, simply Google “Gentry crucible of transformation” and download the article from his Web site:­ (For some reason, visiting his Web site directly does not work but using Google does.) Do not download the version from Gift From Within as it is not the complete article.

Killian, K. (2008). Helping till it hurts? A multimethod study of compassion fatigue, burnout, and self-care in clinicians working with trauma survivors. Traumatology, 14(2), 32–44.

Mathieu, F. (2012). The compassion fatigue workbook: Creative tools for transforming compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization. New York: Routledge.

McCann, I.L., & Pearlman, L.A. (1990). Vicarious traumatization: A framework for under­standing the psychological effects of working with victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 3, 131–149.

Pearlman, L.A., & Saakvitne, K.W. (1995). Trauma and the therapist: Countertransference and vicarious traumatization in psychotherapy with incest survivors. New York: W.W. Norton.

Remen, R.N., (1996). Kitchen table wisdom. New York: Riverhead Books.

Richardson, J. (2001). Guidebook on vicarious trauma: Recommended solutions for anti-violence workers. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: National Clearinghouse on Family Violence.

Rothschild, B. (2006). Help for the helper: The psychophysiology of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. New York: W.W. Norton.

Saakvitne, K.W., & Pearlman, L.A. (1995). Treating therapists with vicarious traumati­zation and secondary traumatic stress disorders. In C. Figley (Ed.), Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the trau­matized. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Saakvitne, K.W., Pearlman, L.A., & the staff of the Traumatic Stress Institute (1996). Transforming the pain: A workbook on vicarious traumatization. New York: W.W. Norton.

Stamm, B.H. (Ed.). (1999). Secondary traumatic stress: Self-care issues for clinicians, researchers, and educators (2nd Ed.). Lutherville, MD: Sidran Press.

van Dernoot Lipsky, L. & Burke, C. (2009). Trauma stewardship: An everyday guide to caring for self while caring for others. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Today’s inspiring photo

A quick message as I wait for my flight to Los Angeles. I am going to do some training with the Children’s Institute and very much looking forward to that! I read this beautiful obituary in the Globe and Mail’s Lives Lived today – did you see it? It’s about Ruth Shead, a Cree woman from Manitoba who recently passed at the ripe old age of 97. She is dubbed a “residential school truant”and a proud Cree. Check out her photo carefully, she is wearing a tiara! That picture, and Ruth’s amazing story, made my day. Thank you Ruth, for the joy you clearly brought to all those around you.