Healing for Healers : Empathy and Compassion Fatigue

Doctors, Nurses, Therapists, Clergy, and other Healing Providers

"Your healing space feels very relaxing and soothing. I think my patients would feel comfortable here", said Dr. Emily S. , as she stands in the middle of my office and looks around. She came to learn about my integrative practice of psychotherapy and intuitive healing as a resource for her patients. Her attention turns to the large bodly colored painting on the wall of a multi layered heart. She comments on how beautiful it is and how appropriate for the work that takes place here. She pauses for a moment. "I should also come here but it so hard to find the time for myself." A tear wells up in her eye and she quickly wipes it away as if to dispel the unexpected sting of emotion. "Many of my patients are so ill and I come home so tired". She lets out a deep sigh. "I get afraid that there won't be enough left of me for my kids. Sometimes I just feel numb." I notice her momentary sad and defeated expression. She then straightens out her slightly bent body and looks back at me with the composure of a strong competent doctor.

The kind of tired that Dr. Saunders is talking about is not the kind that gets better with a good night's sleep. Hers is a compassion fatigue. This is a tiredness that lives in our hearts and in our bodies from the empathy that we express for the people we are treating every day. It can take too much out of us emotionally when we are feeling with our patients, their fears and their feelings of desperation. How can we bring support and caring to our patients when our own inner energetic container is over full? As healers and caregivers it is vital to have a mechanism to replenish and restore ourselves. We also must release any lingering feelings that we unintentionally hold on to from our patients. Dr. Sanders continues to provide her heart-felt caring through her will, drive, and commitment to healing. With a depleted body she pushes beyond, past her 'tired', ignoring her body's aches, pains, and signals to listen.

Twenty five years ago I chose a path that led me to care for people who were suffering deeply. The suffering had many forms such as severe burns, physical and emotional violence, and severe mental illness. People needed so much support to navigate the difficulties that life sent their way. Along with the feelings of pride, fulfillment, and joy that I received from this meaningful work, I also experienced the heaviness that comes from sharing in the depths of the human condition. I felt courageous and gratified that I carried this burden for so long without really knowing its impact. As my life became more complex and dense with responsibility, the heaviness increased. I desperately needed to address it.

Energy healing along with deep body listening and body dialogue offered me this opportunity. I was guided to connect with my body by sensing and feeling what it was holding. I was also guided to learn how to release this holding.

During this process I discovered that I was not just a great holder but I was what I call, an 'inherited holder'. This means one who comes from a long line of strong women holders. How then could I give up my 'inheritance'? This made it more difficult to discern what was truly serving me in my life and what burdens were not really mine.

Healing for Healers is a unique approach to address compassion fatigue, to listen to your body, and to connect to your inheritance. This includes both your inherited burdens and the true gifts of your lineage. You learn how to release what does not serve you, repair deep wounds, restore balance to the body, and replenish your energy and life force. As healers and care providers it is imperative to have a safe and containing place to receive this kind of support. It is possible to give and care for others while still honoring and providing for your own needs and health.

*The name is fictitious to protect confidentiality.

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