Compassion Fatigue Strategies Plus

Register for the Spring 2024 session now!

Regular individual registration is $349 per person through February 26, 2024.

Bring the whole team for a 10% discount on groups of 10 or more.

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“Thank you so much for this class – it could not have been done any better! It was a total game changer for me and it’s  helping me to be my best for the animals. Because of the class I’ve taken back my mornings and that has really helped. The class really spoke to the specific struggles I’ve had working in animal shelters and validated my experiences. Thank you!”

— Animal Shelter Worker, 2023 CFS Alum

Right now animal welfare and veterinary medical professionals are facing enormous, complex challenges. Pushing the boundaries of healing, connecting, and protecting animals and people in our communities is deeply meaningful work and it also takes a toll. 

For many, the work feels never-ending and no matter how hard one works, it never feels like enough. Taking care of your own needs can feel impossible. 

Now more than ever, the helpers need help. 

That’s why the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida is once again offering its Compassion Fatigue Strategies, Plus! online course with certified compassion fatigue educator Jessica Dolce.

This course will help you recognize signs, symptoms, and risk factors of common occupational hazards: empathic distress aka compassion fatigue, burnout, moral distress, and secondary traumatic stress. 

Participants will learn how to reduce and respond to stress injury, develop effective self-care and team-care practices, build career-sustaining compassion satisfaction, recover resiliency, and make practical changes in your life and for your staff.

This is a chance to get 8 weeks of support and to learn new approaches to coping with stress, so you can keep doing the work you’re passionate about, without causing harm to yourself in the process. My hope is that the people who take this course will leave feeling like they’re not in this alone, that they have practical resources and choices to help them navigate ongoing challenges, and a sense of realistic optimism about the future.”        

— Jessica Dolce, certified compassion fatigue educator

By the End of Class You’ll:

  • Have multiple evidence-based strategies to help you do the work you love, reducing empathic strain and burnout, so that you can feel more energized and satisfied
  • Know which specific self-care and stress management practices work best for you at work and at home
  • Develop a personal mission statement so that you have clarity about why you do this work even when it’s challenging
  • Understand how to build small, sustainable habits so that you can make lasting changes in the areas of your life that need attention, like sleep, friendships, and social media
  • Experiment with simple mindfulness, self-compassion, and grounding practices, to help you feel more calm and clear
  • Understand how and when to get professional mental health help, without shame
  • Know how to collaborate with your staff and coworkers on these issues so that you can all benefit from what you learned in the course

Course Overview:

Module 1: Understanding Empathic Strain aka Compassion Fatigue and Other Work-Related Stressors

You’ll dive in deep to understand what Empathic Strain is and what the symptoms are in individuals and in organizations. We’ll look at other sources of stress and distress at home and work and their possible outcomes. Topics include grief, ethical distress, working conditions, personal circumstances, trauma, and burnout. You’ll get familiar with your own experiences, contributing factors, and assess your current levels of secondary traumatic stress and burnout

Module 2: Addressing Stress and Developing Authentic Self‐Care

This module is dedicated to understanding stress and self-care. You’ll work to create a personalized system to help you monitor and manage your fluctuating stress levels in order to reduce reactivity and the risk of stress injury. Next you’ll explore self-care, healthy boundaries, and map out a variety of simple practices that can be used on the job and at home.

Module 3: Building Compassion Satisfaction and Resiliency

This module is dedicated to connecting to the rewards of our work and shifting your perspective to a realistically optimistic outlook in order to increase your Compassion Satisfaction and sustain your energy to do this challenging work. You’ll focus on resilience building techniques, including self-compassion and mindfulness practices, which will help you cope with and recover from the inevitable stress of your work.

Module 4: Taking Action and Committing to Change

In the final module, you’ll be working on creating simple habits to support your wellbeing, learn ways to collaborate with your team and support your staff, and draft a personal mission statement (or an organizational mission statement) to help you see clearly as you take your new skills into the future! Leaders will learn about vicarious trauma-informed organizations and how to reduce burnout by addressing working conditions.

“I really appreciated this course and learned a lot of new ways in which to help myself navigate some of the more difficult aspects of my job . . . I feel like I am back in control of my work life and it’s easier now to remember why I do what I do and focus on the good parts . . . I feel so much more well-equipped to handle the emotional roller coaster now that I’ve taken your course.”

— Amber Lea, Stranding Biologist, 2022 CFS alum

Here’s What You’ll Get:

  • Six core strategies that research has shown reduces and transforms empathy fatigue-related stress
  • All lessons available on day one, 100% online, learn at your own pace
  • Four Modules with videos, integration activities, & readings
  • Daily support and community on discussion boards
  • Four live sessions with Jessica Dolce, including a session on Stress First Aid skills
  • Recorded conversation with Ellen Dolce, Licensed Clinical Social Worker 
  • Recorded conversation with Mueni Rudd, Senior Director of Research & Development at Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity
  • 15 Continuing Education Credits

Course Information:


The course begins Monday, February 26, 2024 and runs through April 21, 2024. Students typically spend an average of 2 hours per week (15-20 minutes a day) moving through the 4 learning modules of this course. This equates to about 1 module every 2 weeks, for a total of 8 weeks. Designed for busy professionals, this online course is available 24/7 and self-paced for the flexibility you need. You’ll have access to all of the class materials on day one and then you can do the work at your own speed.

Students will also get together for 4 live calls to practice stress reduction and mindfulness techniques – this is like 4 hours of self-care, built right into the class. Plus, we talk about what we’re learning and experiencing on the discussion boards – so there’s daily support from Jessica! 

The live calls will be on Tuesday evenings at 8 pm ET (3/5/24, 3/19/24, 4/2/24, 4/16/24). Calls will be recorded and shared for those unable to attend the live sessions.

Ongoing access to all course materials will be available for 4 months after the interactive portion of the course is completed (until August 21, 2024).

Required Resources

The only thing you need for this course is a computer or mobile device and an internet connection. No text books or other materials are required. The course is delivered entirely online through UF’s e-Learning platform (Canvas).


Registration for this course is completed via the University of Florida’s Distance Learning department using the Destiny One Registration System. This course has a limited enrollment class size and may be filled prior to the course start date.

Continuing Professional Education Credits

This course is eligible for 15 credits of continuing professional education for veterinarians in Florida. Veterinarians from other states should contact their licensing board for guidance. The course has been approved for 15 hours of continuing professional education by Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA), and National Animal Control Association (NACA). Participants may download a Certificate of Completion after completing all course requirements.

What People are Saying:

“This class helped me understand that it is not a sign of failure or weakness to stop, say no, and care for yourself, to realize that just stopping and taking a deep breath can help.”

“I’m so glad I found this course. I have recommend it to everyone in my organization, knowing that all shelter workers, from kennel staff to adoption counselors, are at risk for compassion fatigue. It’s a course that should be required of all veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and shelter administrators.”

“During the semester, Jessica’s interaction with her students was above and beyond. She was always ready to offer a pertinent reading or online resource. She has a deep love for poetry, giving us yet another way to express and reflect on our emotions. And her suggestions for looking at a situation from an alternate perspective were always spot-on.”

“Jessica Dolce’s compassion fatigue course couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. My job as a private veterinary practitioner had left me burnt out. I had recently accepted my dream job as a shelter veterinarian, and I wanted to prepare myself to enjoy this job through retirement.”

“I’m not the kind of person to readily discuss my feelings. I’m the kind of person who loves my job and wants to get my work done and do it well. I’ve gotten to the point in my career that I know this is an industry where I could work myself past the point of no return, whether that be burning out or leaving animal welfare entirely. But I came to this work because I love it. I just needed to figure out how to do it sustainably.”

“I just finished this course. It was eye opening and worth every cent. I highly recommend it to anyone in the animal welfare industry.”

Course Instructor

Jessica Dolce

Jessica Dolce is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator via the Green Cross of Traumatology, receiving her training through The Figley Institute and Tend Academy. She brings twenty years of experience working with and for companion animals to her signature online training platform for animal welfare professionals, The Compassion in Balance Program.

Jessica is an adjunct faculty member at Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida and has worked with organizations such as the ASPCA, HSUS, Animals Asia, Best Friends Animal Society, and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She holds a Master of Science in Adult and Higher Education degree, is certified in Mental Health First Aid, and has earned certificates in mindfulness facilitation, trauma-informed organizations, and positive psychology coaching. She can be found online at