Compassion fatigue is defined as indirect or secondary trauma that develops among caregivers as a result of their involvement in the trauma state of the individual under their care, to the point that they begin to empathize with and become deeply involved in the other person’s feelings and suffering. The present study evaluated perceptions of compassion fatigue among 15 preschool teachers in Israel by means of qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews. The study’s findings show that preschool teachers are under a great deal of stress. Their work is multifaceted and entails major responsibility, causing them to feel “alone in the battle.” Most preschool teachers find it difficult to strike a balance between their professional and their personal lives. The study found that during the course of their work, all the interviewed teachers had helped at least one child and his or her family cope with trauma, leading them to experience pain, worry and helplessness. The teachers felt the support provided by the Ministry of Education was inadequate and expressed their need for a more appropriate and accessible support system. The study highlights the feelings of stress and burnout preschool teachers experience at work, the significant impact of secondary trauma on their lives and the need for a formal support system.
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