Book Review: Help for the Helper

By Matthew Wheeland | September 1, 2007 | 0 comments

By Babette Rothschild with Marjorie Rand
W. W. Norton & Company, 2006, 231 pages

Burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious and secondary traumas—these are the ailments that come with the territory of professional caregiving.

Research has found that tending to people in constant physical and emotional pain can actually harm the caregivers’ health, with effects that can approach those of posttraumatic stress disorder.

In Help for the Helper, Babette Rothschild, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist, confronts the cost of caregiving and presents possible remedies. Through her years in practice and in leading professional trainings, Rothschild has developed a series of very straightforward exercises to help therapists and case workers reduce the toll their profession take on them—and in so doing, she offers them a way to rejuvenate their careers.

Rothschild argues that acts as simple as slightly rearranging the furniture in a therapist’s office, or as complex as monitoring one’s bodily response to a client’s pain, can substantially reduce caregivers’ stress levels.

Help for the Helper is aimed at working professionals, particularly therapists and social workers, and at times it can go into too much technical detail for the lay reader. Yet this concise, well-organized book is full of useful ideas and practices for almost anyone who is struggling to take care of a human being in need.

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About The Author

Matthew Wheeland is a student at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in,, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.


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