Professor Dale Larson, Santa Clara UniversityOn this special bonus episode of The Nurse Keith Show nursing career podcast, Keith interviews Dale Larson, Ph.D., Professor of Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University and author of “The Helper’s Journey: Empathy, Compassion, and the Challenge of Caring“. Among other things, they discuss how Dale’s research, theory, and clinical wisdom can offer guidance, support, and perhaps even some hope in a time of global crisis.

Dale G. Larson (BA, University of Chicago; PhD, U.C. Berkeley), is Professor of Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University, where he directs graduate studies in Health Psychology. A clinician and researchers, he is a Fulbright Scholar, a Fellow in the American Psychological Association, and member of the International Work Group on Death Dying and Bereavement. Dr. Larson is the author of the award-winning book, The Helper’s Journey: Empathy, Compassion, and the Challenge of Caring,, and was Senior Editor and a contributing author for Finding Our Way: Living with Dying in America, the Robert Wood Johnson funded national newspaper series that reached 7 million Americans. His scholarly publications on grief and loss, grief counseling, stress and stress management in health professionals, and self-concealment and secrets are widely cited, both in the scientific literature and in the popular media. He has given keynote addresses at major health care conferences, including the Oncology Nursing Society and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and received the Association for Death Education and Counseling Death Educator Award in 2016.

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

Selected discussion points:

  • “The Distress Quotient” and “The Helper’s Pit”
  • Caregiving comes in many forms, including grocery store workers, food preparers, mail carriers, first responders, and healthcare personnel
  • Am I OK? And if I’m not OK, am I OK with not being OK?”
  • COVID-19 is a war unlike we’ve ever seen in living memory
  • Key elements of burnout: exhaustion, demoralization, and diminished caring
  • COVID-related stress and trauma
  • Translating our experience into positive social supports
  • The challenge of caring
  • Maya Angelou: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
  • The lack of nuance we’re experiencing in Zoom meetings and online communication
  • The concept of “webside care” and conveying compassion over the phone or video calls with patients/clients
  • Interdisciplinary myopia and creating an emotional work climate that builds meaning
  • Self-compassion
  • The “mission to vision” process of the individual, team, or organization
  • Teams are like teabags; they don’t know how strong they are until they’re in hot water
  • Moral distress
  • Coming home from work as a healthcare professional in the time of COVID-19
  • Unpacking the secondary trauma of the pandemic
  • Noted episode of The Daily podcast from The New York Times: 24 Hours in a Brooklyn Hospital
  • Grief and recovering from grief
  • Survivor’s guilt
  • Helper’s secrets: “Name it to tame it”; “the fallacy of uniqueness”
  • Feeling like you have to be the courageous warrior
  • “Shame is the glue that keeps things secret”
  • A vaccination of hope

Dale Larson Ph.D., “The Human Side of Healthcare“, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Keynote, 2014:

Connect with Dale Larson, Ph.D.: 


DISCLAIMER: In these episodes regarding COVID-19, I reference the most up-to-date information I can, as well as adding personal opinions and reflections from me and my guests. Please note that the situation is changing by the moment, and any information shared in the course of any episode may not apply once new data or evidence emerges. Please also note that nothing shared in the course of any Nurse Keith Coaching COVID-19 podcast is intended for diagnosis or treatment; please consult your healthcare provider, your local Department of Health, the CDC, the WHO, or other reputable evidence-based sources. 

If you hear or read something I have shared that appears to be erroneous, if you can, please send an email me directly at keith@nursekeith.com. Thank you for understanding, stay safe, and keep informed.


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Nurse KeithIn case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at NurseKeith.com.
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