The occurrence of compassion fatigue amongst sports therapists.
Context: Sport therapy has been described as a care profession, and yet little research exists regarding the factors which promote or hinder the caring/working relationship between practitioner and client. Compassion fatigue occurs when individuals are unable to continue bearing the trauma of others, and might lead to a significant reduction in well-being and work capacity in a care profession. Yet whilst compassion fatigue has been studied in many healthcare professions, no research to date has focussed on sport therapy. Objective: The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine the prevalence of compassion fatigue amongst a group of UK-based sport therapists. Method: Self-reported measures of compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and burnout were obtained. Participants: UK-based members of the Society of Sports Therapists working in employed and self-employed basis participated (n = 32). Results: The results illustrated that 73.9% of participants were classified as being at high risk for experiencing compassion fatigue, and 26.1% as being at high risk for experiencing burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and reduced sense of accomplishment). Further, when conditions were considered in combination, 9.4% of participants were classified as being at risk for experiencing compassion fatigue, burnout, and low compassion satisfaction (fulfilment from helping others). Conclusion: Sports therapy might be considered as a care profession, within which the practioner-client relationship is important in determining outcomes. However, it appeared that the development of this relationship might present risks for the therapist. Therefore, this study has highlighted implications for therapists’ self-care, and for ongoing research on this topic.