Professional quality of life is the quality one feels in relation to their work as a helper. Both the positive and negative aspects of doing your work influence your professional quality of life. People who work helping others may respond to individual, community, national, and even international crises. They may be health care professionals, social service workers, teachers, attorneys, police officers, firefighters, clergy, transportation staff, disaster responders, and others. Understanding the positive and negative aspects of helping those who experience trauma and suffering can improve your ability to help them and your ability to keep your own balance.
Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue are two aspects of Professional Quality of Life. They encompass the positive (Compassion Satisfaction) and the negative (Compassion Fatigue) parts of helping others who have experienced suffering. Compassion fatigue breaks into two parts. The first part concerns things such as such as exhaustion, frustration, anger and depression typical of burnout. Secondary Traumatic Stress is a negative feeling driven by fear and work-related trauma. It is important to remember that some trauma at work can be direct (primary) trauma. In other cases, work-related trauma be a combination of both primary and secondary trauma. If working with others’ suffering changes you so deeply in negative ways that your understanding of yourself changes, this is vicarious traumatization. Learning from and understanding vicarious traumatization can lead one to vicarious transformation.