Module 9: Focus on relationships & Caregiving

Caring is vital - and yet empathy can lead to fatigue, overwhelm and burnout.  This module discusses psychological insights to support us specifically in caregiving, family, and relational contexts. In this module, you will:

  • Discuss social, psychological and biological factors involved in the influence of families on the well-being of their members.
  • Assess the dimensions of a close, personal relationship
  • Reflect on compassion practices and assess utility/application in your daily life and in relational/caregiving contexts.  
  • Engage in real-time psychological research or summarize/critique research articles 

How can we deal with the "pain of connection" in real-time? How can we reduce the likelihood for overwhelm or burnout when we're in caregiving roles or simply in close personal relationship to someone who is suffering?   Matthieu Ricard suggests: compassion.  "One for me, One for you" is a practice that involves offering ourselves compassion on the in-breath (one for me) and offering another compassion on the out-breath (one for you).  In doing so, we can "hold space" for our own empathic suffering as we hold space for the suffering of others -- reducing the conditions for empathy/caregiving fatigue. 

Choose one version of this practice below, and try it 2-3 times this week.  See if you can then apply the technique informally amidst your daily life, when you encounter difficulty with a friend, partner, child, or family member or when you're in the presence of someone who is struggling. 

  • PRACTICE: "One for Me, One for You" Kristen Neff Version (20 min)
  • PRACTICE: "One for Me, One for You" Chris Germer Version (20 min)
  • REFLECT

    1. How did the "One for Me, One for You" practice this week go for you?  What did you notice? What did you find challenging and/or helpful?

    2. Were you able to apply the technique informally, on the fly, amidst your daily life and in your relationships?  If so, how did it go?  What did you notice?  If not, could you imagine a situation in which a technique like this would be helpful?