Compassion Fatigue Self-Test:
An Assessment

For a printable PDF version of this self-test, click here.

Answer the questions below to the best of your knowledge. There is no right or wrong answer.

Assign one of these numbers to each one of the questions below:

Responses: 1 = Very True     2 = Somewhat True     3 = Rarely True

You will find summation directions at the end of the test.

1. When people get upset, I try to smooth things out.

2. I am able to listen to other's problems without trying to "fix" them and/or take away their pain.

3. My self-worth is determined by how others perceive me.

4. When I am exposed to conflict, I feel it is my fault.

5. I feel guilty when others are disappointed by my actions.

6. When I make a mistake, I tend to be extremely critical of myself. I have difficulty forgiving myself.

7. I usually know how I want other people to treat me.

8. I tell people how I prefer to be treated.

9. My achievements define my self-worth.

10. I feel anxious in most situations involving confrontation.

11. In relationships, it is easier for me to "give" than to "receive".

12. I can be so focused on someone I am helping that I lose sight of my own perceptions, interests and desires.

13. It is hard for me to express sadness.

14. To make mistakes means that I am weak.

15. It is best to not "rock the boat" or "make waves."

16. It is important to put people at ease.

17. It is best not to need others.

18. If I cannot solve a problem, I feel like a failure.

19. I often feel "used up" at the end of the day.

20. I take work home frequently.

21. I can ask for help but only if the situation is serious.

22. I am willing to sacrifice my needs in order to please others.

23. When faced with uncertainty, I feel that things will get totally out of control.

24. I am uncomfortable when others do not see me as being strong and self-sufficient.

25. In intimate relationships, I am drawn to people who are needy or need me.

26. I have difficulty expressing my differing opinion in the face of an opposing viewpoint.

27. When I say "no," I feel guilty.

28. When others distance from me, I feel anxious.

29. When listening to someone's problems, I am more aware of their feelings than I am of my own feelings.

30. I find it difficult to stand up for myself and express my feelings when someone treats me in an insensitive manner.

31. I feel anxious when I am not busy.

32. I believe that expressing resentments is wrong.

33. I am more comfortable giving than receiving.

34. I become anxious when I think I've disappointed someone.

35. Work dominates much of my life.

36. I seem to be working harder and accomplishing less.

37. I feel most worthwhile and alive in crisis situations.

38. I have difficulty saying "no" and setting limits.

39. My interests and values reflect what others expect of me rather than my own interests and values.

40. People rely on me for support.


It is important for you to periodically review your self-care, along with your needs and action plans to meet those needs.

If you find that you responded with a 1 (Very True) to more than 15 of these items, it's definitely time to take a close and careful look at self-care issues.

Copyright 1996: Dennis Portnoy, from OVEREXTENDED AND UNDERNOURISHED: A SELF-CARE GUIDE FOR PEOPLE IN HELPING ROLES. All rights reserved. Individuals may print this material for personal use only. Written permission is required for any other reproduction. For more information, go to

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