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Self Test for Your Helping-Profession Clients
B. Hudnall Stamm
This section is applicable if you are treating another therapist, a responding worker, a first responder, a caregiver, a medical or psychological caregiver, as well family members, friends, and others in contact with the person who experienced the trauma directly. You may not be treating this category of client at present, but may consider this training for a future helping-profession client.
others puts your helping-profession client in direct contact with other peoples lives. As you probably
have experienced, their compassion for those they help has both positive and negative
aspects. This self-test helps you estimate your clients compassion status: How much at
risk they are of burnout and compassion fatigue and also the degree of satisfaction
with their helping others. Consider each of the following characteristics about
your clients current situation. Write in the number that reflects how
frequently your client experienced these characteristics in the last week. Then follow
the scoring directions at the end of the self-test
1 = Rarely
2 = A Few Times
3 = Somewhat Often
4 = Often
5 = Very Often
1. I am happy.
2. I find my life satisfying.
3. I have beliefs that sustain me.
4. I feel estranged from others.
I find that I learn new things from those I care for.
6. I force myself to
avoid certain thoughts or feelings that remind me of a frightening experience.
7. I find myself avoiding certain activities or situations because they remind
me of a frightening experience.
8. I have gaps in my memory about frightening
9. I feel connected to others.
10. I feel calm.
11. I believe
that I have a good balance between my work and my free time.
12. I have difficulty
falling or staying asleep.
13. I have outburst or anger or irritability with
14. I am the person I always wanted to be.
15. I startle
16. While working with a victim, I thought about violence against
17. I am a sensitive person.
18. I have flashbacks connected
to those I help.
19. I have good peer support when I need to work through
a highly stressful experience.
20. I have had firsthand experience with traumatic
events in my adult life.
21. I have had firsthand experience with traumatic
events in my childhood.
22. I think that I need to work through
a traumatic experience in my life.
23. I think that I need more close friends.
24. I think that there is no one to talk with about highly stressful experiences.
25. I have concluded that I work too hard for my own good.
26. Working with
those I help brings me a great deal of satisfaction.
I feel invigorated after working with those I help.
28. I am frightened of
things a person I helped has said or done to me.
29. I experience troubling
dreams similar to those I help.
30. I have happy thoughts about those I help
and how I could help them.
31. I have experienced intrusive thoughts of times
with especially difficult people I helped.
32. I have suddenly and involuntarily
recalled a frightening experience while working with a person I helped.
I am preoccupied with more than one person I help.
34. I am losing sleep over
the traumatic experiences of a person I help.
35. I have joyful feelings about
how I can help the victims I work with.
36. I think that I might have been
infected by the traumatic stress of those I help.
37. I think
that I might be positively inoculated by the traumatic stress of those
38. I remind myself to be less concerned about the well being of those
39. I have felt trapped by my work as a helper.
40. I have a
sense of hopelessness associated with working with those I help.
41. I have
felt on edge about various things and I attribute this to working
with certain people I help.
42. I wish that I could avoid working with some
people I help.
43. Some people I help are particularly enjoyable to work with.
44. I have been in danger working with people I help.
45. I feel that
some people I help dislike me personally.
about being a helper and your helping environment:
46. I like my work as a helper.
47. I feel like I have the tools and resources
that I need to do my work as a helper.
48. I have felt weak, tired, run down
as a result of my work as a helper.
49. I have felt depressed as a result
of my work as a helper.
50. I have thoughts that I am a success
as a helper.
51. I am unsuccessful at separating helping from personal life.
52. I enjoy my co-workers.
53. I depend on my co-workers to help me when I
54. My co-workers can depend on me for help when they need it.
55. I trust my co-workers.
56. I feel little compassion toward most of my
57. I am pleased with how I am able to keep up with technology.
58. I feel I am working more for the money/prestige than for personal fulfillment.
59. Although I have to do paperwork that I dont like, I still have time
to work with those I help.
60. I find it difficult separating my personal
life from my helper life.
61. I am pleased with how I am able to keep up with
helping techniques and protocols.
62. I have a sense of worthlessness/disillusionment/resentment
associated with my role as a helper.
63. I have thoughts that I am a failure
as a helper.
64. I have thoughts that I am not succeeding at achieving my
65. I have to deal with bureaucratic, unimportant tasks in my
work as a helper.
66. I plan to be a helper for a long time.
note that research is ongoing on this scale and the following scores should be
used as a guide, not confirmatory information.
1. Be certain to respond to
2. Mark the items for scoring:
a. Put an x by the following
26 items: 1-3, 5, 9-11, 14, 19, 26-27, 30, 35, 37, 43, 46-47, 50, 52-55, 57, 59,
b. Check the following 17 items: 17, 23-25, 41-42, 45, 48-49, 51,
56, 58, 60, 62-65.
c. Circle the following 23 items: 4, 6-8, 12-13, 15-16,
18, 20-22, 28-29, 31-34, 36, 38-40, and 44.
3. Add the numbers you wrote next
to the items for each set of items and note:
a. Your client's potential for compassion
satisfaction (x): 118 and above = extremely high potential; 100-117 = high potential;
82-99 = good potential; 64-81 = modest potential; below 63 = low potential.
b. Your client's risk for burnout (check): 36 or less = extremely low risk; 37-50 = moderate
risk; 51-75 = high risk; 76-85 = extremely high risk.
c. Your client's risk for compassion
fatigue (circle): 26 or less = extremely low risk; 27-30 = low risk; 31-35 = moderate
risk; 36-40 = high risk, 41 or more = extremely high rissk.
- Stamm, Ph.D., B. Hudnall. Secondary Traumatic Stress. Sidran Press, Lutherville, 1999
Reflection Exercise #5
The preceding section contained a self-assessment
exercise. Please use this tool to assess your compassion satisfaction/fatigue.
List two case studies regarding the possible applications of this material.
12: What is one of the first questions you might ask yourself regarding Compassion/Fatigue?
To select and enter your answer go to .