Compassion Fatigue in Lawyers
This is a wonderful panel discussion put on by the Texas Bar to help lawyers with managing their lives in a positive manner. This is a link to the podcast.
TLAP Podcast Chris Ritter and Eric Grigg from TLAP describing their struggles as a lawyer, person and professional. Stress, anxiety, depression and extreme pressures of law school, perfectionism and managing the demands of their clients took a huge toll. This program presented in conjunction with TYLA or Texas Young Lawyers Association was outstanding. I was happy to be a subject matter expert on the topic of compassion fatigue. So, what is compassion fatigue?
Compassion Fatigue also know as Secondary or Vicarious Trauma can make a tremendous emotional impact on lawyers over time. Secondary trauma is commonly referred to as “the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person.”* Dr. Laurie Pearlman, an expert in the trauma field prefers the term vicarious trauma to describe the “cumulative transformative effect of working with survivors of traumatic life events.”
Over time, these conditions can even lead to PTSD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition characterized by either witnessing or experiencing a terrifying life event. Common symptoms include nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks, and obsessive or uncontrollable thoughts. These symptoms may occur immediately after the event, or they may not develop until years later. There are four types of PTSD, including intrusive memories, avoidance, adverse changes in mood and thought, and emotional reactions and physical changes.
Coping mechanisms tend to be rather unhealthy. Avoidance of feelings, drinking, drug use, overeating, symptoms of sleeplessness, loss of appetite, anxiety and depression follow.
How do you fill your tank? Well, that all depends on how out of balance you life, relationships, sleep, nutrition, work, exercise and spiritual live has become. The remedies are reliable and work, but require time, attention and support. Get help sooner than later. Remember, the balance of work, love and play matters. If your life was a pie with 3 slices, what would each slice size look like right now? What would improve your life to make changes in how you allocate your time?