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The Helper's Journey Empathy, Compassion, and the Challenge of Caring

Dale Larson, PhD Author, Researcher, Clinician, Speaker

  • Who I Am

    I am the J. Thomas and Kathleen L. McCarthy Professor of Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University, a Fellow in three Divisions of the American Psychological Association (Counseling, Health, and Humanistic Psychology), clinical psychologist, and Member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement.
    My bio and curriculum vitae

  • My Goals

    Recent discoveries in positive psychology, neurobiology, health care, and psychotherapy are revolutionizing our understanding of the components of compassionate, person-centered care. These developments provide a true compass to guide providers of this care, and show how to strengthen resilience against stress, acquire essential helping and self-care skills, create high-functioning health care teams, have service to others be a journey of discovery and personal growth, and move us toward a more caring society and world. My goal is to share these empowering ideas and skills with nurses, social workers, physicians, psychotherapists and counselors, clergy and other helping professionals who each day make profound contributions to our health and well-being.

  • My Work

    My research, writing, lecturing, and program development focus on professional stress, end-of-life issues, psychotherapy, grief and grief counseling, and the health effects of secrets and self-concealment. I have had the honor to share the helping journey with my students and clients, and with colleagues throughout the world.


Praise for The Helper's Journey

With The Helper's Journey, author Dale Larson provides an inspiring guide for clinicians working with people facing grief; loss, trauma, and serious illness. He draws upon recent discoveries in positive psychology, neurobiology, and psychotherapy that are revolutionizing our understanding of empathy, compassion, altruism, resilience, teamwork, and the helping relationship. Clinicians' self-disclosures capture the inner world of helping as Larson brings to life the joys and dilemmas that comprise the human dimension in health care. The Helper's Journey charts a clear path to clinical effectiveness and personal growth for providers of compassionate, person-centered care.

What Leaders Are Saying

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 fbr 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

In this very well written book, Larson helps readers to explore their motivations for caregiving and to find a balance between under- and over-involvement when working with patients and others. This book is a mandatory read for all helpers and caregivers.

—J. William Worden, PhD., ABPP, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital

You will likely identify with the histories of those helpers featured in this book, tear up at many of the examples of how and with whom they work, and learn much about the ways that you can care for yourself while giving so much to others.

—Barry A. Farber, PhD., Professor, Clinical Psychology Program, Teachers College, Columbia University

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.,
   Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Dalla Lana School of Public
   Health, University of Toronto, Clinical Consultant, Wellspring

Dr. Larson beautifully incorporates recent research and theories as he demystifies the art of helping and addresses the critical and often ignored concept of helpers’ secrets

—Patti Anewalt, PhD., LPC, FT,
Director of Pathways Center for Grief & Loss, Hospice and Community Center

Deep insight like this is more essential every day as societies worldwide are aging, and the burden of caregiving is growing exponentially. This empowering and inspiring guide is essential reading for hospice and palliative care workers who care for this growing population of our most vulnerable patients and families.

—Stephen Connor, PhD., Executive Director, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance

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