Are you ready to offer your staff increased wellbeing support and build a more caring organizational culture, but you’re not sure where to start? You bring the commitment and we’ll bring the expert training!
Thanks to the generosity of Maddie’s Fund, The Maddie’s Million Pet Challenge is offering organizations a variety of learning opportunities, including live webinars and self-paced online classes, led by an expert facilitator, completely free of charge. Priority is given to organizations that have the desire to explore these issues at both the individual and organizational levels.

Compassion in Balance

Trauma-informed organizations recognize the role of trauma exposure in their staff members’ (and clients’) lives and understand the necessity of providing preventive and supportive care for staff’s exposure to Secondary Trauma. This means there is a balance of care – on one hand caring for the community and on the other caring for your staff. Compassion in Balance refers to restoring or incorporating a more balanced approach to serving and giving. As John Wilson says, “It’s important to counterbalance the intensity of the work you do.”

The Compassion in Balance Program will be led by Jessica Dolce, a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator and instructor with Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida. Jessica brings ten years of experience supporting animal welfare and care professionals to her online training program.

Have you been wondering:

  • How to help your staff learn to manage stress and cope with the difficult emotions of the work?
  • What to do to create healthier working conditions, so people don’t burn out?
  • How managers can learn to care for themselves, so they have the capacity (and skills) to support their teams?
  • Whether you need to address trauma in your organization?
  • How to reduce negativity and help staff feel re-energized about the work?

The Compassion in Balance Program has the answers.

If you are chosen for this opportunity, the MMPC will provide training to build compassion resilience with the program’s core skills:

  • Increase Awareness and Competence – Understanding the impact of trauma-exposed work, along with the practices that can mitigate it, is a critical first step for individuals and organizations. With increased self-awareness and self-regulation skills, staff will be able to reduce reactivity and develop intentional optimism and hope.
  • Develop Balance and Healthy Coping Skills – Animal care is emotionally challenging work. Participants will learn how to navigate intense emotions, build healthy boundaries, and refuel with self-care. These are critical skills for every person to learn in order to do more effective, ethical, and sustainable work.
  • Foster Strong Connections and Caring Culture – Participants will connect to explore shared values and strengths in order to make positive changes. Cultivating support and collaboration among all staff levels can reduce conflict and create a more resilient, caring culture within your organization.
  • Choose the training that works best for your organization. All training starts with an engaging live webinar designed to support your entire organization. In addition to this all-staff class, organizations will select a cohort of team members to complete a deeper level of training. Based on your application and current needs, a cohort will either participate in the six-module CiB Self-Study Course or the 6-hour facilitated Building Resilient Teams Training.
  • Live Custom Webinar – Come together as an organization to learn and practice strategies that can help everyone feel less stressed and more resilient. Customized for your group’s needs, a live webinar with Jessica can help your people to care for themselves and one another more effectively, so they can continue to make an impact.
  • The Compassion in Balance Self-Study Course – In this six-module online course, you and your staff will learn how to recognize Compassion Fatigue (aka empathic distress) and develop new healthy skills to help manage the impact of stress and distress. The course allows ample time for everyone to learn and grow at their own pace. Staff can log in on their own devices at work or home.
  • Building Resilient Teams Training – Build trust, connection, and resiliency skills together with six one-hour trainings designed to be facilitated by your own staff. Coworkers will learn how to address common stressors together through structured lessons that include videos, discussions, worksheets, and action steps.
  • Understand compassion fatigue symptoms, contributing factors, and how to access professional mental health help.
  • Learn the signs of stress and how to use simple self-regulation practices to reduce stress on the job.
  • Understand the importance of self-care to help create a better work-life balance and healthy boundaries.
  • Reconnect to the rewards and shift to a more positive outlook in order to increase compassion satisfaction.
  • Learn self-compassion and mindfulness practices to help cope with what you can’t control.
  • Craft healthy goals and a personal mission statement.
  • Collaborate with staff and coworkers on these issues, so that they can create a healthier work environment for everyone.
  • Receive a Certificate of Completion upon passing a final quiz.
  • Pump the Brakes on Stress. Learn how to recognize different responses to stress on your team, identify triggers, and reduce reactivity.
  • Build an Optimistic Outlook. Learn how to recognize and reframe negative thoughts to reduce stress, increase compassion satisfaction, and build realistic optimism with your team.
  • Cope with Difficult Emotions. Learn how to use zone of control thinking, active coping skills, and peer debriefing, to help create a more supportive team.
  • Increase Recognition and Appreciation. Learn how to foster gratitude, appreciation, and recognition to celebrate the efforts of your team and increase trust.
  • Use Constructive Communication. Learn how to understand upsets, actively listen to reduce misunderstandings, and communicate respectfully, even in difficult conversations.
  • Build a Compassionate Badassery Team. Learn how to create a team culture agreement, helping your staff stay connected to their values and mission.
  • Who can apply? The MMPC sponsors enrollment in the CiB program for animal shelters and veterinary clinics focused on improving access to veterinary care, spay/neuter, or community cat management.
  • What is included in the sponsored program? All training starts with an engaging live class designed to support your entire organization. In addition to this all-staff class, organizations will then have the opportunity to complete a deeper level of training, based on their current needs and available resources. The two options are: a cohort of five staff members will enroll in the six-module CiB Self-Study Course or your organization will be given access to the six-hour facilitated Building Resilient Teams Training which can be used across multiple teams.
  • When and where are the live webinars held? The webinars are held on a mutually agreed upon date and time. They are typically scheduled 2-4 months in advance. Webinars are hosted on Zoom. The webinar is approximately 90 minutes long (a 75-minute presentation with 15 minutes for Q+A).
  • What happens if people miss the live event? The webinar will be recorded and you will receive a copy of the recording that you can keep.
  • Who should take the courses? These courses have helped more than a thousand shelter workers, veterinary medicine practitioners, animal protection officers, program staff, and more. The courses are best suited for people who are interested in learning about compassion fatigue and resilience or would benefit from increased support. Anyone at any level, including volunteers, can benefit from the course. However, not everyone enjoys or will participate in online self-study or group-style learning. We recommend beginning by enrolling a small group of staff members who have demonstrated interest in the course.
  • How can we encourage and document participation in the Self-Study? Make time on the clock for your staff to engage with the course. Start a CiB discussion group using the group discussion prompts provided. Here are some ideas for incentives. There is a quiz at the end of the course to document engagement. Participants who pass the quiz will receive a certificate of completion that they can download and share with you. Analytics (documenting course progress) can be provided upon request.
  • Who facilitates the Team Trainings? You do, with the materials provided. Jessica has created very structured materials, including a facilitator’s guidebook, to help you use these trainings with your teams. In order for this to work, your organization must have someone on staff or a volunteer who is willing to lead the trainings. Ideally, this person is calm, caring, and comfortable with guiding conversations. This is an ideal role for someone who is a social worker! Depending on the size of your organization, you may need more than one facilitator.
  • How much time should we plan for the Self-Study course? You can enroll your staff any time and they’ll have immediate access to all six modules. This class is 100 percent self-paced and the work can be done at any time, from any device. You do not have to be in class at specific times. The self-study modules can be completed in as little as 6-12 hours. Group discussion prompts are provided, for those who wish to work on the course together. Because adults learn at different paces, students have access to class for one year.
  • How much time should we plan for the facilitated Team Trainings? Each training is one hour long. There are 6 trainings in total, each approximately one hour long. Depending on the size of your teams and number of facilitators available, you may wish to schedule the trainings bi-weekly, monthly, or every other month. The trainings work well as a lunch-and-learn or as material for in-service learning days. You have access to the materials for a full year.
  • Are CEUs available? Yes, you can earn AAWA CEUs. Jessica Dolce, creator of Compassion in Balance, is an approved provider of content which enhances professional competence and aligns with the five domains of the AAWA Exam specifications. Every hour of training equals 1 CE toward AAWA Recertification. Looking for veterinary CEUs? You are encouraged to contact your licensing board for guidance.
  • Learn more about the Compassion in Balance (CiB) Program is here to help.

Although all the scholarships for 2022 have been awarded, organizations can still work with Jessica and the Compassion in Balance Program directly. Applications for Maddie’s® Million Pet Challenge scholarships will open again in the fall.

A collaboration of UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at UF, Open Door Veterinary Collective, and Team Shelter USA.

Maddie’s® Million Pet Challenge is creating transformative “communities of practice” that deliver access to care through humane, community-centric programming—inside and outside of the shelter—to achieve the right outcome for every pet. Our consultative mentoring services are holistic, deep and practical, and delivered by the proven team who brought you the Million Cat Challenge, in expanded partnership with Open Door Veterinary Collective. This program is made available at no cost to participants, #ThanksToMaddie