If you think you are suffering from Compassion Fatigue, Burnout or Secondary Trama, THIS TEST IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you’re like me, you may think you’re suffering, but you won’t reach out for help until you have an objective voice confirming your own perceptions.   This test is that secondary voice!  If you “fail”, it’s time for you to consider seeking professional care!

There’s a difference between burnout and compassion fatigue.  Burnout in the workplace is a more general term that relates to anybody in a stressful situation, while compassion fatigue is a phenomena that specifically relates to those of us who are professional caregivers.

Being that funeral directors are susceptible to compassion fatigue AND have an uncontrolled work environment, we are especially vulnerable to burnout, as well as secondary trama. I’ve bordered compassion fatigue and burnout a couple times as an undertaker, and sometimes I’ve crossed the line into the danger zone where dark depression and self-infliction reside.

And I’ve often wondered if there’s a way to define whether or not a caregiver (such as a funeral director, nurse, doctor, etc.) is indeed suffering from compassion fatigue and/or burnout.

Here’s a test I found.

It’s long. And if you want to complete it, it might take about 15 minutes.  Probably the easiest way to take it is to print out this entire article by using the “Print” button at the bottom. If you “fail” the test, seek help.


When you [help] people you have direct contact with their lives. As you may have found, your compassion for those you [help] can affect you in positive and negative ways. Below are some questions about your experiences, both positive and negative, as a [helper]. Consider each of the following questions about you and your current work situation.

Select the number that honestly reflects how frequently you experienced these things in the last 30 days.

1=Never  2=Rarely  3=Sometimes  4=Often  5=Very Often

1. I am happy.

2. I am preoccupied with more than one person I [help].

3. I get satisfaction from being able to [help] people.

4. I feel connected to others.

5. I jump or am startled by unexpected sounds.

6. I feel invigorated after working with those I [help].

7. I find it difficult to separate my personal life from my life as a [helper].

8. I am not as productive at work because I am losing sleep over traumatic experiences of a person I [help].

9. I think that I might have been affected by the traumatic stress of those I [help].

10. I feel trapped by my job as a [helper].

11. Because of my [helping], I have felt “on edge” about various things.

12. I like my work as a [helper].

13. I feel depressed because of the traumatic experiences of the people I [help].

14. I feel as though I am experiencing the trauma of someone I have [helped].

15. I have beliefs that sustain me.

16. I am pleased with how I am able to keep up with [helping] techniques and protocols.

17. I am the person I always wanted to be.

18. My work makes me feel satisfied.

19. I feel worn out because of my work as a [helper].

20. I have happy thoughts and feelings about those I [help] and how I could help them.

21. I feel overwhelmed because my case [work] load seems endless.

22. I believe I can make a difference through my work.

23. I avoid certain activities or situations because they remind me of frightening experiences of the people I [help].

24. I am proud of what I can do to [help].

25. As a result of my [helping], I have intrusive, frightening thoughts.

26. I feel “bogged down” by the system.

27. I have thoughts that I am a “success” as a [helper].

28. I can’t recall important parts of my work with trauma victims.

29. I am a very caring person.

30. I am happy that I chose to do this work.


Based on your responses, place your personal scores below. If you have any concerns, you should discuss them with a physical or mental health care professional.


Compassion satisfaction is about the pleasure you derive from being able to do your work well.  For example, you may feel like it is a pleasure to help others through your work. You may feel positively about your

colleagues or your ability to contribute to the work setting or even the greater good of society. Higher scores

on this scale represent a greater satisfaction related to your ability to be an effective caregiver in your job.

Test Results Scale for Compassion Satisfaction

3.  ____   6.  ___   12.  ____  16.  ____  18.  ____  20.  ____  22.  ____  24.  ____  27.  ____  30.  ____  Total: _____

The sum of my Compassion Satisfaction questions:

22 or less 43 or less =  Low // Between 23 and 41 = Average // 42 or more = High


Most people have an intuitive idea of what burnout is.  From the research perspective, burnout is one of the elements of Compassion Fatigue (CF). It is associated with feelings of hopelessness and difficulties in dealing

with work or in doing your job effectively. These negative feelings usually have a gradual onset. They can

reflect the feeling that your efforts make no difference, or they can be associated with a very high workload or

a non-supportive work environment. Higher scores on this scale mean that you are at higher risk for burnout.

Test Results Scale for Burnout:

*1.  ____   *4.  ____   8.  ____  10.  ____  *15.  ____  *17.  ____  19.  ____  21.  ____  26.  ____  *29.  ____

Reverse the scores for those that are starred. 0=0, 1=5, 2=4, 3=3, 4=2, 5=1

Total: ____

22 or less = Low // Between 23 and 41 = Average // 42 or more = High


The second component of Compassion Fatigue (CF) is secondary traumatic stress (STS). It is about your work related, secondary exposure to extremely or traumatically stressful events. Developing problems due to exposure to other’s trauma is somewhat rare but does happen to many people who care for those who have experienced extremely or traumatically stressful events. For example, you may repeatedly hear stories about the traumatic things that happen to other people, commonly called Vicarious Traumatization. If your work puts you directly in the path of danger, for example, field work in a war or area of civil violence, this is not secondary exposure; your exposure is primary. However, if you are exposed to others’ traumatic events as a result of your work, for example, as a therapist or an emergency worker, this is secondary exposure. The symptoms of STS are usually rapid in onset and associated with a particular event. They may include being afraid, having difficulty sleeping, having images of the upsetting event pop into your mind, or avoiding things that remind you of the event.

Test Results Scale for Secondary Trama

2.  ____  5.  ____  7.  ____  9.  ____  11.  ____  13.  ____  14.  ____  23.  ____  25.  ____  28.  ____     Total: _____

22 or less = Low // Between 23 and 41 = Average // 42 or more =High


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