Self-Compassion for Teams

We specialize in customizing and delivering empirically-supported self-compassion training for teams in higher education. We’ve worked with various departments that focus on the health, wellness, education and safety of others including Student Affairs and veterinary faculty.

We offer tools to make that meaningful work more sustainable, so that providers can thrive, too.

Why bring self-compassion to your team?

Many leaders are sharing that their teams are tired and worn out, and could use practical strategies to take better care of themselves and to engage in their work in more sustainable ways.

We offer empirically-supported skills to help manage stress and burnout as well as provide an environment where teams can connect, restore, and replenish together.

Empathy Fatigue

Empathy encompasses our capacity to feel with and for others – sharing in both their joy and their pain. This is a key feature of any caregiving relationship.

However, when you regularly interface with others who are in struggle or in pain, you are more likely to come up against your limit for how much difficulty you can bear. This results in empathy fatigue, the exhaustion associated with caring for others on a regular basis.

Understandably, this is a common challenge for those in helping professions.

Common signs of empathy fatigue include:

Emotional symptoms

  • Feeling overwhelmed, powerless or hopeless
  • Lower Motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling isolated or disconnected from others
  • Self-blame
  • Numbness and feelings of apathy
  • Ruminating thoughts

Physical symptoms

  • Feeling tense or agitated
  • Feeling exhausted regularly
  • Avoiding work or other activities
  • Headaches, nausea or upset stomach
  • Difficulty sleeping or constant racing thoughts
  • Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol
  • Changes in your appetite

Compassion is uniquely positioned to help.

Paul Gilbert, the creator of Compassion-Focused Therapy, defines compassion as “the deep awareness of suffering in oneself and other living beings, coupled with the wish and effort to alleviate it.” 

In psychological research, compassion is considered a positive emotion, is inherently energizing, and is characterized by care and concern. It is an inner resource, available to everyone. 

Self-compassion is simply including ourselves in the circle of compassion – offering ourselves compassion, too.

Self-compassion is strongly linked to:

  • Lower levels of burnout
  • Enhanced well-being including:
    • Reductions in anxiety, depression, stress, rumination, perfectionism, and shame
    • Increases in life satisfaction, connectedness, curiosity, emotional strength, and gratitude
  • Motivation with less fear of failure, more resilience after set-backs, and greater personal responsibility 
  • More forgiveness and perspective taking

Application to Higher Education Teams

Self-Compassion is a trainable skill that can be strengthened with practice and have a substantial impact on your workplace culture. We recognize that work in higher education can be very demanding and rather than adding to our to-do list, the practice of self-compassion includes tools and perspectives that can be utilized anytime, anywhere, including at work.

We are Certified Teachers of Mindful Self-Compassion, an evidence-based program with a wide array of tools to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. We will work closely with you to develop a customized experience to support the well-being of your team.

Self-compassion training can help your team to:

  • Manage burnout and fatigue
  • Ground and ease stress on the spot
  • Show up to difficult work in a more mindful, sustainable way
  • Soften self-criticism and explore healthier ways of self-motivation
  • Process difficult emotions
  • Take skillful time and space to reflect and restore energy
  • Learn to support each other in a way that enhances workplace culture

We are here to help teams feel more empowered in their day-to-day demands, to foster a greater sense of authentic connection, and to build a more genuine culture of compassion. 

* No prior mindfulness or self-compassion experience is needed.

Customizing your workshop

We will work with you to custom design an experience that meets your needs. You are welcome to use our modules or work with us to co-create / adapt new modules.

Workshop length: Can range from 3 hours to 2 days

Format: In-person or virtual

Workshop activities typically include:

  • A brief overview of relevant theory and research
  • Empirically-supported exercises
  • Self-reflection
  • Small and full-group discussions
  • Team-building to surface insights, themes, and ways of supporting each other
  • Mindful movement and poetry (optional)

Sample workshop agendas

Example 3-Hour Workshop with one module
Title: Meeting Stress with Compassion
clear light bulb
  • Learn the three components of self-compassion
  • Explore research on compassion, physiology and how compassion can be helpful in the midst of stress
  • Experience self-compassion practices for moments of stress
  • Learn how to relieve empathy fatigue and burnout
  • Surface insights, themes, and ways of supporting each other as a team

Example 2 Day Workshop with the following 6 modules
Title: Self-Compassion and Sustainable Work

Meeting Stress with Compassion (Module 1)

  • Learn the three components of self-compassion
  • Explore research on compassion, physiology and how compassion can be helpful in the midst of stress
  • Experience self-compassion practices for moments of stress
  • Upgrade your tool-kit for self-compassion in daily life 
  • Source insights, themes, and ways of supporting each other

Managing Burnout and Fatigue (Module 2)

  • Recognize signs of burnout, and how self-compassion can help to alleviate it
  • Explore research on empathy and compassion, and how compassion can help to sustain energy / prevent burnout
  • Engage in a practice to do difficult work in a more sustainable way
  • Self-reflection and group discussion

Self-Criticism and Perfectionism (Module 3)

  • Discuss the function of self-criticism and its impact on us and others
  • Explore a practice to get to know and better understand your inner critic and its motivations
  • Consider how to make changes – with accountability and responsibility – but with a kinder approach

Team Building and Compassionate Listening (Module 4)

  • Discussion on how we listen (or don’t) to others, what gets in the way, and challenges to being fully present with others in the midst of our work
  • Explore strategies for embodied listening with a focus on staying in connection with self and others.
  • Engage in a small-group listening exercise focused on building authentic connection and common humanity

Working with Difficult Emotions (Module 5)

  • Discussion on the difficult emotions that tend to arise in life and at work including cultural and workplace norms around handling these big feelings.
  • Learn about the stages of acceptance for difficult emotions.
  • Explore mindfulness, embodiment and compassion practices to work with difficult emotions more comfortably and effectively

Grounding and Easing Stress on the Spot (Module 6)

  • Understand the theory of how mindfulness helps to bring more calm and balance in the midst of reactivity.
  • Explore various options for grounding, stabilizing attention, and soothing that can be practiced on the spot, when you need them most. 
  • Expand upon and deepen strategies that are accessible and effective for each individual.

Who are we?

Heather Shaughnessy-Cato

Heather Shaughnessy-Cato is a self-compassion, mind-body, and well-being teacher, facilitator, and coach. She enjoys working with organizations, teams and individuals to navigate life’s stressors with more curiosity, compassion, and ease.

Heather formerly worked as a therapist at Vassar College Counseling Service, and in development for UNC Charlotte, the Charlotte Symphony, and Discovery Place Science Museum in Charlotte, NC.

Heather has a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from UNC Charlotte, and is a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher, Certified Wellness and Health Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher, Certified Designing Your Life Facilitator and Coach, with a certificate in Mindfulness from the Nalanda Institute.

Emily Whyte Rubin

Emily Rubin is a graduate of The University of Michigan with a background in mind-body health and a particular passion for emotional education. She is a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher, a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator in the work of Brené Brown and an AmSAT Alexander Technique Teacher with further trauma resolution training in Somatic Experiencing® and Internal Family Systems. She has been in private practice and facilitating groups for the past 15 years.

Emily aims to create a safe and inclusive environment and to empower people to optimize the application of self-compassion into their lives.  She has taught workshops at Virginia Tech, The University of Michigan, NYU Tish, NYU Gallatin, Hilton Worldwide, Shift Wellness, and The Juilliard School.

How do I learn more? 

Please fill out the form below if you would like to schedule a time to discuss the possibility of us working with your team.

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