The Helper’s Journey

Categories: Care.

The Helper’s Journey: Empathy, Compassion, and the Challenge of Caring (2nd ed.)
by Dale G. Larson

The second edition of the best-selling book The Helper’s Journey: Empathy, Compassion, and the Challenge of Caring (Research Press, 2020) by Dale G. Larson serves as an inspiring guide to clinicians who serve people facing grief, loss, trauma, life-threatening illness, or other highly distressing life events. Specifically, it is intended for nurses, physicians, social workers, mental health workers, clergy, and other professionals on the frontline of caregiving. Building on the award­ winning first edition, this book provides strategies and skills to improve helping relationships, enhance interprofessional teamwork, strengthen clinician resilience, and fast-forward personal and professional growth.

An indispensable companion and advisor, The Helper’s Journey presents an uplifting view of helpers and the caring professions as it sensitively explores the inner world of helping. Engaging real-life clinical vignettes and helper disclosures shed light on key issues and skills. Fresh perspectives are offered on a variety of core helping issues, including purpose and mission in the work, clinician emotional involvement, the role of concealment and confiding in helping and healing, and transdisciplinary teamwork. The clinical implications of new research—on empathy, compassion, altruism, burnout, compassion fatigue, mindfulness, neurobiology, resilience, and the helping relationship-are translated into immediately applicable approaches and skills to help readers meet the challenges of person-centered care.

“There have been many exciting developments in our field over the past several decades and I needed to spell them out for myself with the hope it would benefit others doing the work.  The fields of positive psychology and neuroscience are yielding new understandings of empathy, altruism, the health benefits of a meaningful life, and the dynamics of effective helping relationships and high-functioning interprofessional teams.  I got to write about eudaimonia, mirror neurons, exquisite empathy, compassion collapse, moral distress, compassion fatigue, and dozens of other ideas and phenomena not in our conversations two decades ago. I waited until I had collected the work and ideas that energized me most and then integrated those into the general framework of the first edition. You might think of me as the “cicada of second editions,” only appearing every 20 years or so, and I think it’s good to have the book at  this particular time, a time when we are seeking to bring person-centered compassionate care into full bloom across the helping professions. The book is all about person-centered care (it is a theme throughout the book), very in sync with NHPCO’s thrust,” Dale G. Larson.

“Dale Larson writes clearly about loss, empathy, compassion, personal distress, burnout, compassion fatigue, moral distress, and how to keep going when the going gets tough. Drawing on the latest research and his personal wisdom, he shows us how caring is good for us … but only if we practice self-compassion and are not drawing from empty wells. The Helper’s Journey is a masterpiece for our time and the coming decades in the field.” – Mary L.S. Vachon, RN, RP, PhD

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