The role of self-care on compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary trauma among child welfare workers

Alison Salloum*, David C. Kondrat, Carly Johnco, Kayla R. Olson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


Child welfare workers are routinely exposed to multiple traumatic events when working with children and families, and are at an increased risk of experiencing burnout and secondary trauma. Self-care is often recommended as a restorative or protective activity against the negative effects of working with traumatized individuals, although few studies have examined the benefit of self-care empirically. Trauma-informed self-care (TISC) includes being aware of one's own emotional experience in response to exposure to traumatized clients and planning/engaging in positive coping strategies, such as seeking supervision, attending trainings on secondary trauma, working within a team, balancing caseloads, and work-life balance. Compared with generic personal care activities, TISC is likely to be especially relevant for child welfare workers. This study examined the role of TISC on compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary trauma which was assessed by administering surveys to a sample of 104 child welfare case managers and supervisors. Almost one third of the sample reported high levels of burnout (29.8%) and secondary trauma (28.8%), and low levels of compassion satisfaction (31.7%). Results suggested that workers who engaged in higher levels of TISC experienced higher levels of compassion satisfaction and lower levels of burnout, although there was no relationship with secondary trauma. Findings provide preliminary evidence that TISC may be a beneficial practice to reduce risk of burnout and preserve workers' positive experience of their job, however workers experiencing secondary trauma are likely to need additional specialized intervention to assist them with their recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Child welfare
  • Self-care
  • Burnout
  • Secondary trauma
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Compassion satisfaction


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