The Helper's Journey

The Helper's Journey
Empathy, Compassion, and the Challenge of Caring
Second Edition
Mental Health Professional
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The Helper's Journey: Empathy, Compassion, and the Challenge of Caring (cover)


The power of empathy and compassion is revolutionizing our approach to person-centered counseling and caregiving. The new edition of The Helper’s Journey builds on themes of altruism and purpose in life, which were presented in Larson’s bestselling first edition. Drawing from the field of positive psychology, it explores the brighter side of human nature and helping. Real-world caregiver experience in hospice and palliative care, oncology, and counseling bring to light fresh perspectives. New research on empathy, altruism, resilience, the helping relationship, and empathetic counseling skills are illuminated through clinical vignettes and verbatim helper disclosures. This book charts a clear path to clinical effectiveness and personal growth for providers of compassionate, person-centered care.


“Dale Larson has been a consistent force for decades shedding light on the essential issues in health care of compassion, empathy, and resilience. This new edition of The Helper’s Journey is a deeper dive into these concepts that have become even more critical as we struggle to sustain a workforce to provide care in serious illness. This book is essential reading for any clinician providing compassionate care.”

—Betty Ferrell, PhD, FAAN, FPCN, Professor and Director of Nursing Research, City of Hope Medical Center

“Rooted in science and infused with soul, this latest edition of The Helper’s Journey is a gift to a new generation of caring professionals. Dale Larson shines a bright light on a path to professional integration, personal growth, and well-being.”

—Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible, active emeritus professor of Medicine, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

“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, Registered Psychotherapist in Private Practice, Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Clinical Consultant, Wellspring

Part One: Exploring the Inner World of Helping
1. The Helper in Us All
2. The Challenge of Caring: Emotional Involvement in Helping
3. Beyond Burnout: Finding Balance and Enhancing Resilience
4. Secrets: Concealment and Confiding in Helping and Healing
Part Two The Interpersonal Challenge
5. The Person-Centered Helper and Helping Relationship
6. Healing Words: Compassion in Action
Part Three Creating Caring Systems
7. The Caring Team
8. Toward a Caring Society and World
Appendix A: A Self-Diagnosis Instrument for Burnout
Appendix B: Self-Concealment Scale
About the Author