Compassion fatigue and global compassion fatigue in practitioner psychologists: a qualitative study

Keeley Stevens, Miznah Al-Abbadey

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Practitioner psychologists are at risk of compassion fatigue (CF) due to the emotional demands of helping individuals who have experienced pain and suffering. Practitioner psychologists may also be impacted by wider socio-political events (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), which can lead to global compassion fatigue (GCF). While these concepts have been examined in various healthcare professionals, research exploring the impact of CF and GCF on practitioner psychologists has been very limited. This study therefore aimed to explore the impact of compassion fatigue (CF) and global compassion fatigue (GCF) on practitioner psychologists’ practice. Ten participants were recruited for online semi-structured interviews during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collected was thematically analysed. Five themes related to compassionate care were identified, which included: ‘How to be compassionate’, ‘Psychologists require TLC too!’, ‘Hindrances of compassionate care’, ‘Constraints within the NHS’ and ‘Indicators of compassion fatigue and burnout’. Three themes related to GCF were identified, which included: ‘Effects of news/social media’, ‘Management of news/social media’ and ‘Challenges faced by COVID-19’. The implications of CF and GCF and ways to mitigate their effects on practitioner psychologists’ wellbeing, development, and their practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalCurrent Psychology
Early online date6 Jul 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 6 Jul 2023


  • compassion fatigue
  • qualitative
  • practitioner psychologist
  • Covid-19

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