Continued Early Childhood Education Phone: 866-727-1617


What is the Difference between Burnout and Compassion Fatigue?

Kathy Pillow-Price, EdD

July 9, 2021

Share:

Question

What is the difference between burnout and compassion fatigue?

Answer

While it is not uncommon to hear compassion fatigue referred to as burnout, the conditions are not the same. Compassion fatigue is more treatable than burnout, but it can also be less predictable and may come on suddenly or without much warning whereas burnout usually develops over time.

Comparison of burnout and compassion fatigue

Figure 1. Comparison of burnout and compassion fatigue.

As you can see in figure 1, burnout is when you are dissatisfied with work, and compassion fatigue is life dissatisfaction. With burnout, you feel under pressure, and with compassion fatigue, you may feel out of control. With burnout, taking time away from work or getting a new job will often fix the problem, but compassion fatigue requires a different treatment.

In the words of the founder of compassion fatigue, Dr. Charles Figley, "Compassion fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress. It is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper."

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Caring for Yourself While Caring for Otherspresented by Kathy Pillow-Price, EdD.


kathy pillow price

Kathy Pillow-Price, EdD

Dr. Kathy Pillow-Price has spent most of her professional career working to improve the lives of children and families. She is a nationally known expert in the field of early childhood education and is a frequent presenter at regional and national events. After years teaching and working in higher education, she currently works in an executive grant management role. She has a master's degree in Early Childhood Education and a doctorate in Educational Leadership.


Related Courses

Caring for Yourself While Caring for Others
Presented by Kathy Pillow-Price, EdD
Video

Presenter

Kathy Pillow-Price, EdD
Course: #32087Level: IntroductorySubject Area: Maintaining a commitment to professionalism1 Hour
  'It was an amazing training'   Read Reviews
Those in helping professions need to understand burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma and how they can be prevented. Although it may not be possible to eliminate the stress associated with our work, it can be reduced, allowing healing.

Reflective Practitioner
Presented by Nicole Quint, Dr.OT, OTR/L
Video

Presenter

Nicole Quint, Dr.OT, OTR/L
Course: #31233Level: IntermediateSubject Area: Managing an effective program operation1 Hour
  'Information very detailed and one in shich I can further explore'   Read Reviews
This course provides professionals with an introduction to reflective practice, looking at models that encourage the transition to becoming a reflective practitioner as a professional. Concepts and practical methods to integrate into practice are discussed.

ACEs: Understanding Trauma in Children's Lives
Presented by Alison D. Peak, LCSW, IMH-E
Video

Presenter

Alison D. Peak, LCSW, IMH-E
Course: #31235Level: IntroductorySubject Area: Understanding principles of child development and learning3 Hours
  'The presenter was knowledgeable and presented in a way that was easy to understand'   Read Reviews
This course provides information regarding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their impact on early childhood development, brain architecture, and health outcomes. After a brief overview of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study learners will take an in-depth look at the behavioral manifestations of children with high ACEs and ways to navigate those behaviors and needs in the classroom. Finally, learners will consider the impact of an educator’s own ACEs on their interactions in a classroom and the role of reflective capacity in addressing these ACEs. Please note: This course series is comprised of the following individual recordings: #31194, #31196, and #31202

Understanding Trauma Part 2: You are the Intervention
Presented by Nicole Steward, MSW, RYT
Video

Presenter

Nicole Steward, MSW, RYT
Course: #31242Level: IntermediateSubject Area: Maintaining a commitment to professionalism1 Hour
Trauma is an ever-present reality in today’s world and it’s showing up more and more in the work we do. Part 2 of this 2-part presentation will provide clarity on how trauma is triggered, what emotional regulation is, and how we can show up for the work in a resilient way.

Ergonomic Strategies for the Childcare Worker: Keeping Your Body Safe While Caring for Young Children
Presented by Sara Loesche, MS, OTR/L, CHT
Video

Presenter

Sara Loesche, MS, OTR/L, CHT
Course: #31252Level: IntroductorySubject Area: Maintaining a commitment to professionalism1 Hour
  'Keeping your back safe during lifting or carrying activities'   Read Reviews
This course will introduce childcare workers to the physical demands of childcare related tasks and the risk factors associated with the activities and environment in which they are performed. Intervention strategies to promote health and wellness as well as prevent injury within childcare settings will be discussed.