Workshop addresses compassion fatigue

Central Cariboo Hospice Society is presenting a workshop on Sept. 18 with a specialist on compassion fatigue and chronic sorrow.

Central Cariboo Hospice Society is presenting a workshop on Sept. 18 with Jan Spilman, MEd, a B.C. registered clinical counsellor and specialist on compassion fatigue and chronic sorrow.

With a 10-year background in critical care nursing and 20 years as a trauma and loss therapist and workshop facilitator in private practice, Spilman now focuses exclusively on teaching workshops that support, renew and inspire wellness in helping professionals, volunteers and family caregivers.

Her goal is to support the simple but profound life changes that build resilience to compassion fatigue (the natural exhaustion, traumatic stress and diminished capacity for empathy that can accompany working with the suffering or traumatized) and chronic sorrow (the very normal and continuing grief response to living with a loved one’s permanent illness or impairment).

As a helping professional who has experienced compassion fatigue and as a family caregiver who has lived through chronic sorrow, Spilman speaks with authenticity and a depth of understanding. In 1997, her husband was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy and she was his primary caregiver until his death from heart failure in 2004.

Spilman earned a nursing diploma from St. Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing, Vancouver, in 1972 and she received an individual Masters degree in Mental Health Education, with a Certificate in Addiction Studies from Simon Fraser University and Seattle University in 1989.  She later received a certificate in Psychoanalytic Scholarship from the Northwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study in Seattle, WA.  Her graduate work focused on the role of education in trauma resolution.

Some warning signs of compassion fatigue and chronic sorrow include feeling helpless and hopeless, the sense that one can never do enough, the inability to listen to others’ pain, dissociative moments, survivor guilt, fear, anger and cynicism, profound sadness, emotional numbing and self-medicating behaviours.

This workshop will use mini-addresses, film, individual exercises and group discussion to help participants recognize their current level of compassion fatigue/chronic sorrow and to begin a personalized resiliency plan to guide their process of  prevention or healing.

The workshop will be held at the St. Andrew’s United Church basement hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lunch will be provided.

Those interested can call the Central Cariboo Hospice Society, Kate McDonough or Teresa Myers at 250-392-5430 for more information on the fee and to register.


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