Professor Jennifer Baum’s new article, “Compassion Fatigue: Caveat Caregiver?” appears in the
winter edition of the ABA’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee newsletter.
The article reports on a recent ABA teleconference examining “compassion fatigue,” a condition that can negatively impact lawyers and others working closely with traumatized individuals. Studies show that so-called helping professionals who work day in and day out with victims of serious trauma can, over time, show changes in their ability to demonstrate compassion and care, and these workers can themselves also suffer from symptoms of PTSD, such as nightmares and desensitization. As. Professor Baum notes, “research has shown that compassion fatigue leads to an increase in direct negative impacts on clients, including legal errors, client profiling, general disorganization, and conflict and toxicity in the workplace (“horizontal violence”), which in turn leads to decreased job performance.” The article goes on to explain how to treat and reduce compassion fatigue, and improve representation for traumatized youth.