Caring for beginning counselors: the relationship between empathy, supervisory working alliance, resilience, wellness, and compassion fatigue counselors-in-training
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The concept of compassion fatigue has been around since the late 1990s, with researchers examining the relationship between different concepts and compassion fatigue across various professional fields. Compassion fatigue has been described as the natural consequence of behaviors, emotions, and stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a suffering individual or trauma survivor (Figley, 1995). Counselors may experience compassion fatigue because of continual exposure to hearing clients’ suffering and traumatic stories. However, beginning counselors and counselors-in-training (CITs), may experience struggles working with their clients due to lack of knowledge, experience, skillset, or support (Skovholt & Trotter-Mathison, 2016). I designed a correlational study to investigate the associations between compassion fatigue and empathy, supervisory working alliance, resilience, and wellness among CITs in the United States. I used a demographic form, the Brief Resilience Scale, the Flourishing Scale, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, the Supervisory Working Alliance Inventory: Trainee Form, and the Professional Quality of Life Scale to collect data from 84 CITs who agreed to participate in the study. I then performed a correlation analysis and a three-step hierarchical multiple regression analysis to examine the collected data and address my identified research questions. Results of the present study revealed CITs reporting themselves as having a low risk of compassion fatigue. Results also revealed significant negative correlations between wellness and resilience with compassion fatigue, while significant positive correlations were found between empathy and resilience with wellness. Finally, hierarchical regression analysis results indicated that wellness and resilience were significant predictors of self-reported risk of compassion fatigue among CITs. The findings of the current study support theoretical and practical implications for counselor educators, supervisors, and future researchers. Counselor educators may consider enhancing their current training programs by including discussion topics about empirically predictive factors of compassion fatigue, such as wellness and resilience, in various courses. Supervisors may practice wellness and resilience strategies in supervision and develop interventions designed to prevent compassion fatigue from its early-onset. Future researchers may explore the effectiveness of these wellness and resilience interventions, expanding on the results of the present study.