Watson, Lori, PHR

Crees, Thomas


High-stress helping professionals such as law enforcement, first responders, and healthcare professionals are exposed to secondary traumatic stress (STS) throughout their careers and sometimes experience primary trauma. This exposure to trauma in their professions, mixed with the stress and pressures of the job, can produce symptoms of compassion fatigue (CF). In our current climate, the prevalence of behavioral health intervention among law enforcement is a conversational topic as departments experience societal pressure to reform policing. This presentation explores the emotional and physical impact of CF and STS on the well-being of those impacted; and how CF, specifically, can exacerbate volatile situations or incidents between first responders and citizens. The presentation will identify specific risk factors and distinguish the difference between burnout and compassion fatigue.

Further, the presentation will present literature on the behavioral outcomes of compassion fatigue in law enforcement officers, specifically, and the implications for the field of counseling among this demographic. Research evidences success and benefits of psychotherapy, psychoeducation, and workplace/peer support programming among law enforcement officers and agencies that implement counseling practices.

Through interactive methods and review of case studies, workshop participants will learn to identify compassion fatigue, and apply counseling and wellness interventions to each case.


  1. Distinguish the difference between burnout and compassion fatigue (CF).

  2. Review literature and research on the symptoms of CF and its relation to post traumatic stress disorder.

  3. Understand the neurobiological impact of secondary traumatic stress (STS) and its relation to CF.

  4. Discuss treatment areas and methods defined in research that encourage compassion satisfaction and address STS and compassion fatigue.