By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Are you in a role where you care for others? If so, you may experience burn out, compassion fatigue, or even vicarious trauma (if you haven’t already!). I believe that if you are a caregiver, then you must have a self-care plan in place to prevent or repair burn out, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma!

The goal of this blog post is to raise awareness of the need for self-care, and to encourage everyone, especially caregivers, to have an effective self-care plan in place.

Caregivers are so important to society and take many forms:

  • Counselors/Therapists/Psychologists
  • Physicians/Nurses
  • First Responders–police, fire, paramedics, EMT’s
  • Social Workers
  • Pastors/Ministry Workers

If you are in one of the above roles, then a good self-care plan is vital to your long term health, your future success, and your personal relationships.
Compassion Fatigue is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is a common occurrence in most of the roles listed above. Compassion fatigue is also known as secondary traumatic stress. Ask yourself if you may have some compassion fatigue.

Vicarious Trauma is defined as “a transformation in the helper’s inner sense of identity and existence that results from utilizing controlled empathy when listening to clients’ trauma-content narratives. In other words, Vicarious Trauma is what happens to your neurological (or cognitive), physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health when you listen to traumatic stories day after day or respond to traumatic situations while having to control your reaction.” (Vicarious Trauma Institute Ask yourself if you may have experienced vicarious trauma.

Start Self-Care Now!

One of the most important aspects of an effective self-care plan is consistency. Below are suggestions for self-care. Whichever options you choose–be consistent and put these activities on your calendar to ensure they happen!

Self-Care Activities:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Prayer
  • Exercise/Fitness Activities
  • Martial Arts
  • Counseling
  • Support Groups
  • Church
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Nutrition

I recommend choosing at least two to three items from the above list. As someone who has been a caregiver for many years and has heard and experienced many traumatic experiences, I have done all of the above, over time, to help me stay healthy.

Additionally, caregivers must have a healthy support network of several friends, and/or mentors, that can be counted on for conversation and support when needed.

Finally, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all the caregivers out there! You are loved, appreciated, and worthy of good care!

I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on this topic. You can comment below or contact me at or 949-303-8264. Visit my website for info on counseling or coaching, and our nonprofit foundation at

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy, he will gladly show you pictures!)Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families and individuals affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

Observations from The Gathering on Mental Health and The Church held at Saddleback Church on March 28, 2014:

  • This was not a churchy pray away the problem type of event. It was very scientifically sound and included teaching from some top mental health professionals including Daniel Amen, MD, Tom Okamoto, MD and Aaron Kheriaty, MD (Professor of Psychiatry at UC Irvine).
  • The goal was to prepare church leaders to effectively deal with mental health issues because 26% of adults will have these issues and one third of these folks seek help from the local church first.
  • Another goal of the event was to reduce the stigma and reduce the fear of mental illness.
  • Science and religion should be in dialogue–not contradict each other.
  • Research shows prayer and meditation are very helpful to those with some mental health issues.
  • We’re all mentally ill on some level–it’s just a continuum–so don’t judge others!
  • Family, faith and community support are huge factors in successfully treating those with mental illness.

Conclusion–this was an amazing, much needed and much overdue event! Lives will be changed and even saved from the seeds planted at this event. Personally, I am very grateful to work at a church that is on the forefront of providing quality mental health care to our community.

You can watch a webcast of the event and download the accompanying workbook here: The workbook is an incredible compilation of helpful resources and next steps in helping those struggling with mental health issues.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.