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The Prevalence and Impact of Burnout, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Other Factors in Predicting Compassion Fatigue
AdvisorColl, Kenneth M.
Counseling and Educational Psychology
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Counselors need to be aware of the signs, symptoms, and risk factors for compassion fatigue. Ethical codes including the ACA Code of Ethics state that counselors who are impaired should not see client and state that supervisors and counselor educators should monitor for impairment in supervisees and trainees (American Counseling Association, 2014). The sample included eighty-two counselors practicing in thirty states who completed a Qualtrics survey posted on counseling forums and listservs. This study utilized descriptive statistics to answer questions about the prevalence of burnout, compassion fatigue, and adverse childhood experiences in counselors. Multivariate regression models were used to predict compassion fatigue scores. All of the counselors in this study were at low to moderate risk of burnout, while approximately 80% of the sample was at moderate to extremely high risk of compassion fatigue. The average ACE score for participants including community ACEs was 7 and the average score excluding community ACES was 3.76. The combination of number of abusive/neglectful ACEs, number of community ACEs, number of household dysfunction ACEs, severity of ACEs, and total burnout score predicted approximately 53% of the variance in compassion fatigue scores. Counselors can be at risk for compassion fatigue even if they are not experiencing burnout. More research needs to be conduct on the impact of the severity of personal trauma on compassion fatigue.