By: Andy Wallace, PhD, Chair, SSU Philosophy Department.
A common mistake that many health care practitioners make is assuming that compassion causes burnout. ‘Compassion fatigue’ is the colloquial expression for this mistake. In fact, ‘compassion fatigue’ is a misnomer for empathic distress, which refers to the over-identification with the suffering of others. A powerful antidote for empathic distress is the cultivation of compassion. More compassion, not less, is the answer. Research on compassion indicates that compassion is an activating, energizing, and uplifting state of mind. The more one develops one’s own innate compassion response the more one is capable of holding the pain of others without losing emotional balance or becoming disabled by it.
Part of becoming more compassionate includes becoming more compassionate towards oneself. Self-compassion refers to unconditional loving-kindness from the self for the self. We need to distinguish self-compassion from self-esteem, which refers to conditional self-acceptance. Compassion for self and others is an innate disposition that persons can cultivate intentionally. Cultivating compassion provides a means for health care practitioners to remain engaged and vital in their work of service for others.Learning Objectives - After completion of the presentation the attendees will:
1. Understand the difference between empathic distress and compassion.
2. Understand current research on the health benefits of compassion.
3. Learn practices for cultivating compassion responses.
About our speaker
Dr. Andy Wallace earned his PhD in moral philosophy from University of California, San Diego. He is a full professor and chair of the philosophy department at Sonoma State University, where he has taught since 1998. He is a Stanford Certified Compassion Cultivation Training Teacher and teaches at the Compassion Institute in Petaluma, CA.
Dr. Wallace's research focuses on compassion, especially the ontogenetic developmental mechanisms that help to explain why becoming more compassionate produces such remarkable health benefits for the compassionate individual. He is also am interested in the ethical implications of compassion: how best to understand the role that compassion plays in moral experience. Current empirical research on compassion suggests that it can represent a powerful antidote to burnout in the helping professions.
An international speaker, he will present current research on the energizing or activating nature of compassion and offer participants practices to cultivate their own compassion responses.
10:30 - 11:00 Social networking and registration
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