Assessment Tools and Wellness Programs
Impairment manifests in one of two ways. Either your life becomes overwhelming and interferes with your work OR your work becomes overwhelming and interferes with your life.
Manifestations of impairment include:
- Compassion fatigue
- Vicarious traumatization
- Depression, anxiety, other mental health conditions
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Over-involvement and overwork
- Relationship problems
Wellness Monitoring and Renewal
One of the most important skills counselors can learn in guarding against impairment is the regular practice of self monitoring and self care activities. The task force on impaired counselors has examined a number of self assessment instruments designed to identify counselors' vulnerabilities to impairment.
Two instruments in particular seem to be especially helpful in identifying areas of vulnerability across the many spheres of wellness with which counselors should be concerned.
The Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL-III) assessment measures compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, vicarious traumatization, and potential for burnout in counselors (Stamm, 2002).
As a balance to the ProQOL-III the task force also recommends the Self-Care Assessment (Saakvitne, Pearlman & Staff of TSI/CAAP, 1996). This assessment focuses on the wellness activities in which counselors may participate across several domains of wellness (physical, psychological, spiritual, and professional).
The two assessments taken together provide a balance, with the ProQOL-III helping identify a level of risk for compassion satisfaction or fatigue and the Self-Care Assessment providing a snapshot of how well we are caring for ourselves. Self-monitoring and assessment are useful, however, only if the counselor is willing to take action to address any areas of risk, or to bolster their own wellness resources.