The Effectiveness of Guided Imagery in Treating Compassion Fatigue and Anxiety of Mental Health Workers – 2018

Mental health professionals’ exposure to clients’ traumatic experiences can result in elevated stress, including compassion fatigue and burnout. Experiencing symptoms of these types of stress can hinder workers’ ability to provide effective services. If a tool can reduce these symptoms, there is potential benefit for workers as well as those receiving their services. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of prerecorded guided imagery (GI) on compassion fatigue and state anxiety. A total of 69 employees of a mental health nonprofit organization participated in this two-arm randomized controlled trial. Participants completed the Professional Quality of Life Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, and question 6 from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index at baseline and follow-up, and completed State Trait Anxiety Inventory short form before and after each activity (GI or taking a break). Results revealed statistically significant differences in change scores between the control and experimental groups for state anxiety and sleep quality. The results suggest that GI may be useful for reducing stress for mental health professionals, which could have positive implications for quality of service delivery.

Kimberly A Kiley, Ashwini R Sehgal, Susan Neth, Jacqueline Dolata, Earl Pike, James C Spilsbury, Jeffrey M Albert
Social Work Research, Volume 42, Issue 1, 1 March 2018