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Characteristics of a Human Service Professional Essay

Individuals working in hospice are a great example of chronic bereavement. “Chronic Bereavement refers to multiple losses and include the effects of chronic anticipatory, and unresolved grief, as well as the compounding effects of experiencing several episodes of grief concurrently” (Hooyman p 349). While meeting the emotional needs of the dying and their families health services professionals don’t have always have time to deal with their own grief appropriately. Compassion Fatigue

“Compassion fatigue describes the convergence of secondary traumatic stress and cumulative stress or burnout, which is most prevalent among professionals, family members, and associates of trauma survivors (Hooyman p350). Many human service workers have had some kind of early-life trauma that influenced their career choice which makes them more vulnerable to compassion fatigue. The symptoms of compassion fatigue are similar to those of primary traumatic stress disorder. They differ in that compassion fatigue doesn’t affect the health care provider. Vicarious Traumatization

Vicarious traumatization (VT) is defined as “the negative transformation in a helper’s inner experience that takes place as a result of deep empathic engagement with traumatized clients couples with a sense of professional responsibility to help.” (Hooyman p350). There are many considerations when treating vicarious traumatization, especially during self-care such as awareness, balance, and connection. Awareness is to recognize signs and symptoms of vicarious traumatization, avoid substances that numb your feelings and awareness and listen to those who have noticed changes in you and discuss those changes. Balance is setting limits to availability to therapeutic work and setting realistic expectations. Then you need to know to apply what you have learned in the workplace and your personal life. Burnout

Burnout is one of the main reasons for the quick turnaround in the health care profession. “Burnout refers to physical, emotional, and psychological exhaustion accompanied by a sense of demoralization and diminishing caring and creativity and personal accomplishments”. (Hooyman p352) To avoid burnout to quickly, health professionals may need to take long weekends or vacations to rejuvenate themselves. Countertransference

“Countertransference is broadly defined as the personal reactions elicited in the professional relationship, directed toward the client and stemming from the professional’s previous experiences.” (Hooyman p 355) Countertransference occurs when a health care provider has unresolved issues and those issues affect the patient. Countertransference reactions include but are not limited to: being overprotective, rejecting a client, needing constant approval or reinforcement. Self-awareness is necessary to avoid countertransference.


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