101232: Help for the Helper

The Psychophysiology of Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma

About the Course:

Good therapy cannot occur without empathy. Empathy, however, can jeopardize a therapist’s well-being and eventually compromise the therapeutic process itself. Here Babette Rothschild draws on the powerful mind-body perspective put forward in her highly successful The Body Remembers in order to help therapists help themselves through an understanding of the role the body plays in mental health and overall well-being.

Therapist burnout is a pressing issue. Self-care and risk-avoidance are possible only when therapists actively help themselves.
Self-care, however, needs to be grounded in neurophysiological theory and must be practiced correctly and consistently in one’s mental health work. The difference in the new awareness that Rothschild recommends will be felt not just in the life and well-being of the therapist, but also in the therapy hour as this attentiveness has its affect on the exchange between therapist and client. Help for the Helper offers readers a comprehensive approach to somatic empathy and therapist self-care.
Based on the scientific foundation of the phenomenon of somatic empathy, Rothschild offers clinicians practical skill-building advice to manage burnout and stress inside and outside the consulting room.


W.W. Norton

Publication Date:

March 2006


Rothschild, Babette, MSW, LCSW; Rand, Marjorie (contributor)

About the Authors:

Babette Rothschild, MSW, LCSW, has been practicing psychotherapy since 1976 and is a member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the National Association of Social Workers, and the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy. She is also the author of The Body Remembers and The Body Remembers Casebook. After living and working for nine years in Denmark, she returned to her native Los Angeles, where she maintains a private practice while offering professional training, consultation, and supervision throughout the world.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially psychologists, counselors, social workers and nurses who seek knowledge about self-care and its critical importance regarding burnout prevention and working effectively as a mental health practitioner. It is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Explain what the author means when she refers to the use of common sense.

  2. Identify assets and deficits therapists possess that will likely influence how they respond to the risks of being a helping professional.

  3. Describe the theory behind the neurophysiology of empathy and apply it to self-protection skill building practices.

  4. Illustrate ways therapists can be more aware of negative forms of arousal and build skills of arousal awareness.

  5. Recognize how “clear thinking” is affected by neurophysiological factors.

  6. Critically analyze information presented and choose to apply relevant techniques for strengthening your ability to avoid vicarious trauma.

Exam Questions

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