resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
June, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 06
Caring too Much
By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR
Years ago, while sitting in a restaurant with a colleague, I learned something about myself. We each worked as massage therapists in eldercare facilities and it was really nice to talk to someone who "got it." Our conversation took an unexpected turn.We candidly admitted seemingly unhealthy responses to our work — and they were quite similar: distancing more than we thought we should and feeling irritated with other caregivers. There was one thing that stands out. We each were avoiding our work by putting off seeing clients and rushing through sessions. This caught our attention because we both love our work. So, why were we avoiding it? It just didn't make sense. We had a good laugh at ourselves, got some relief and I'm grateful for it even years later (thanks, Jeff).
I now realize that we might each have experienced compassion fatigue. As it turns out, we aren't alone. Anyone in a "helping profession" is vulnerable. Nurses, doctors, counselors, veterinarians, social workers, chaplains, emergency response workers and people caring for aging parents can also experience this. Massage therapists are on the list, too. I think those of us who specialize in working with frail elders and people living with terminal illness are especially vulnerable. Choosing to serve this special population means we are sensitive people to begin with — not a bad quality to have, but maybe it means we need to check in with ourselves from time to time to avoid the toll of compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue is a relatively new term. Dr. Charles Figley, an expert on the subject, describes it as, "a state experienced by those helping people in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it is traumatizing for the helper." He goes on to say that, "the capacity for compassion and empathy seems to be at the core of our ability to do the work and at the core of our ability to be wounded by the work."
Compassion fatigue results from the cumulative impact of taking care of people living with serious illness, trauma, abuse or severe conditions. It's different than job burnout, which is dissatisfaction with our employment situation, not necessarily the work itself.
Wanting Others To Be Happy
Compassion is our feelings and thoughts when we witness the suffering of another and the unconditional desire to alleviate that suffering. The Dalai Lama describes compassion as the "wish for another being to be free from suffering and wanting them to be happy." He also tells us that sometimes we confuse compassion with attachment, which is our own personal investment in the outcome of the situation. In other words, when we think we are feeling compassion, we actually are wrapped up in our own emotional needs rather than simply being open to the needs of the other person. Perhaps it's attachment that leads to compassion fatigue, not compassion itself. In my experience, when I truly feel compassion, I'm uplifted and it does my heart good. I feel love.
A perfect illustration of this happened just yesterday to a massage therapist named Jane in a workshop taking place in a long-term care facility. When Jane walked into the elder's room, she was stunned when she took in what she saw — an extremely thin, emaciated woman with severe bruising and discoloration on her arms and legs sitting in her wheelchair, alone. Jane described her first reaction as fear, which turned to sadness for this woman's condition and knowing that she really couldn't do anything to change it. But she conjured up the courage to stay present and focused her attention on this woman rather than the outer condition. The fear softened. She gently massaged the woman's shoulders and neck and she told Jane, "that feels good." Jane shared that following the session, instead of fear she felt good knowing she had made a difference by connecting with this woman. She was able to drop the attachment to the fear and sadness which allowed her to be present and both she and the elder were uplifted in the process.
Knowing the Signs
How can you recognize compassionate fatigue? Some of the symptoms might seem like "normal" stress responses and you might associate them with your work. After all, we live in a pretty stressful world these days. Some characteristics of compassion fatigue include:
Recognizing our vulnerability to these symptoms is important. How can we avoid this reaction or ease them when they happen? The answer lies in holistic self-care. Advice about self care typically includes physical support like regular exercise, getting enough sleep and good nutrition. However, we shouldn't stop there. Nancy Jo Bush, an oncology nurse, says that holistic self-care also includes setting empathetic boundaries; self awareness and self forgiveness; being in tune with one's spirituality and finding hope. The experts agree that reaching out to others and developing a support system is critical. Who would you turn to if you needed the support of an understanding friend? I personally like the advice from a practitioner working in hospice who says, "lighten up and don't forget to laugh."
That reminds me of an old Joni Mitchell lyric, "laughing and crying, you know it's the same release." Thanks, Joni. We'll all try to remember that!
Click here for more information about Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.