By Diana Ballon
Tend Academy offers first responders two online courses, one on staying grounded when doing stressful work, and the other on the essentials of compassion fatigue. Course material is provided through workbooks, resource guides and video that you can use on your own time, and be assured of complete confidentiality.
Staying grounded in stressful work
This course will help first responders learn strategies to prepare for, cope with and reset following a stressful situation. Rather than being reactive or avoiding difficult situations, users learn to be centred so they can choose consciously how they want to respond. The course includes a resource guide that has a summary of the central points from each of the 15 chapters, as well as companion videos for each chapter, presented by a trauma-trained therapist.
After a brief introduction, Chapter 2 involves a Visualization exercise to increase your awareness of where your body may be holding stress, so that you can release it.
Chapter 3 then looks at the Threat Response or the neuroscience around how our bodies respond to threat.
Chapter 4 will help you to evaluate if you are Running on Adrenaline and Numbing Out, and includes a questionnaire to help you assess this.
Chapter 5 answers the question, Is All Stress Bad? by looking at how a certain amount of stress may help us perform well but can become overwhelming if the stress gets too big.
Chapter 6 focuses on Resilience and includes a discussion of the Window of Tolerance Framework (WTF) that helps us monitor our stress and arousal levels.
Chapter 7 looks at Polyvagal Theory or how the vagus nerve affects our response to threat, and discusses WTF Debriefing Strategy to help you reset after dealing with a stressful situation.
Chapter 8 is the Tree Exercise, which you can do to see how your energy shifts through the day.
Chapter 9 involves a Grounding Technique that involves keeping your feet on the floor to help you be present and balanced in the moment.
Chapter 10 then expands on the grounding techniques described in Chapter 9 with a discussion of Centering, or how to redirect your energy to the centre of your body to find a sense of calm.
Chapter 11 focuses on Stress Inoculation, which is a training to help you prepare for a stressful situation.
Chapter 12 provides three Mindfulness Strategies to use in stressful situations.
Chapter 13 offers Strategies to Use During a Stressful Situation, such as pausing frequently to be present and aware of a situation while it is happening.
Chapter 14 describes Strategies for Resetting After a stressful situation.
And finally Chapter 15 is about self care or Taking Care of You because providing compassion to others means first bringing compassion to ourselves.
Compassion fatigue essentials
This online course explores the essentials of compassion fatigue, which is a normal consequence of working in a helping profession. It includes a workbook, as well as videos for each of its 11 chapters. The workbook provides exercises to help you reflect on the work that you do, and the kind of traumas and stress you might be exposed to. It gets you to examine warning signs that you might be getting overloaded with stress, offers a self-care inventory, and includes a reflection exercise that you can do to examine the kinds of support systems you have in your life.
Course videos cover the many aspects of compassion fatigue, beginning with its History and What We Call the “Cost of Caring” in Chapter 1.
Chapter 2 looks at Vicarious & Secondary Trauma and how these forms of trauma differ from compassion fatigue.
Chapter 3 is about Factors that Affect Compassion Fatigue, which include transition ritual (or how you transition from work to home life), personal vulnerabilities (or other struggles you may be coping with, whether this is addiction or other difficult caregiving roles), as well as protection and training.
Chapter 4 provides an exercise to get you to think about the stresses in The Work That You Do.
Chapter 5 answers the question, Who Gets Compassion Fatigue? by discussing the vulnerability of people working in “high touch” or caring professions.
Chapters 6 and 7 look at tools for Assessing Multiple Exposures, such as a Venn diagram that visualizes different forms of exposure, and ProQOL, the gold standard test for compassion fatigue.
Chapter 8 looks at the 4 Steps to Wellness to help you track how much stress you have at home and at work, consider issues like work/life balance, self care and the supports you have or that may be missing in your life.
Chapters 9 and 10 look at Workplace Strategies to help prevent or manage compassion fatigue, or catch it early on. This includes Low Impact Debriefing — learning how to process, debrief and hopefully reduce stress at work — and Compassion Satisfaction — looking at the benefits of your job and the way it gives you meaning. It also discusses Toxic Workplaces.
Finally, Chapter 11 invites you to take what you have learnt and see how you can integrate it into your life moving forward.