Date of Award

Winter 2-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Mindfulness Studies

First Advisor

Nancy Waring


Research on the inherently stressful nature of working with those who are suffering, traumatized and dying, including the potential for developing secondary trauma, stress and burn/out is growing. For example, Joan Halifax (2011), Christopher Germer (2011), and Charles Figley are a few of the researchers studying compassion fatigue. As a result, there is also increasing research conducted on various solutions to mitigate the distress of caregivers. The findings show how mindfulness can actually build resilience and alleviate compassion fatigue. This review focuses on the literature that makes significant contributions to the field of mindfulness, compassion, self-compassion, and compassion fatigue/empathic distress. This literature is discussed along with techniques that are useful both in the clinical settings and for individuals experiencing caregiver distress. Figley (2002, 1998), Halifax (2011), Lynch and Lobo (2012), explore compassion fatigue in both the professional caregiver and non-professional caregivers such as family members. The studies demonstrate that cultivation of compassion is needed for oneself in mitigating compassion fatigue. The Introduction defines the concept of compassion. In what follows it, I discuss the growing research on the devastating effects of caregiving distress and its possible causes. The terms compassion fatigue/empathic distress, are sometimes used interchangeably; however, not all researches agree on their definitions. It should be noted that more recent research, and in particular the mindfulness researchers, who argue that it is empathic distress and the lack of selfcompassion that is the cause of caregiver distress. Following the paper, I offer a syllabus for an eight-week course on mindfulness practices aimed at mitigating compassion fatigue.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.