The Art of Comforting: What to Say and Do for People in Distress

Overview

We live in an increasingly "virtual" world in which it can be tempting to skip making that true, human connection with someone in pain. Even though our thoughts might be with them, we lack the confidence to reach out, worrying that we will say or do the "wrong" thing.

In this practical, step-by-step guide to what she calls "the art of comforting," Val Walker draws on numerous interviews with "Master Comforters" to guide readers in gently and gracefully breaking through the walls...

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The Art of Comforting: What to Say and Do for People in Distress

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Overview

We live in an increasingly "virtual" world in which it can be tempting to skip making that true, human connection with someone in pain. Even though our thoughts might be with them, we lack the confidence to reach out, worrying that we will say or do the "wrong" thing.

In this practical, step-by-step guide to what she calls "the art of comforting," Val Walker draws on numerous interviews with "Master Comforters" to guide readers in gently and gracefully breaking through the walls that those who are suffering often erect around themselves. Interviewees include inspiring individuals such as Alicia Rasin, who, as a victim's advocate for the city of Richmond, Virginia, has devoted her life to comforting grieving families devastated by homicide, gang violence, and other traumatic experiences; or Patricia Ellen, who, as a grief counselor and outreach director at the Center for Grieving Children in Portland, Maine, appears on site to support and comfort children, staff, and parents when a school is facing a death, violence, or other crises.

All of us will, at one time or the other, be called upon to offer warmth and support to another human being who is suffering-this book will show you how to answer the call with an open heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Walker, a bereavement coordinator and former rehabilitation counselor, set out to write the book she could not find: an accessible guide for comforting people in distress. Fortunately, she succeeds: her effort is filled with clear examples and actionable steps that help readers effectively comfort those in need. Walker interviews a nurse practitioner, a victims' advocate, a minister, therapists, and others who use comforting skills in their daily work, providing a multifaceted and rich guide for caring. The "Words of Comforting" section explores what to say and what to avoid saying, both face to face and in writing. "The Comfort of Art" explains how the visual and performing arts can lend solace. "The Nature of Comforting" discusses the healing powers of animal therapy and connection with the outdoors. "A Little Guidebook to Comforting Things" lists movies, TV shows, books, music, and websites. A chapter on what do to when people resist comforting feels underdeveloped, but as a whole The Art of Comforting is a useful resource. Walker wisely emphasizes the importance of self-care and boundary-setting for comforters. Her voice is comforting, and some sections read like a memoir; her candid revelation of her own struggles reaffirms for the reader that a comforter does not always have to be strong. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In an effort to write the book she couldn't herself find, rehabilitation counselor Walker discusses the nature of comforting and illustrates how to restore this most important skill. The whys of developing one's ability to comfort lie in helping others feel relieved, validated, calmer, connected, and valued in the throes of life's harsher moments. She offers suggestions for both verbal and nonverbal soothing, and even artistic ventures to explore with adults and children. Walker includes an extensive guide to comforting movies, TV, music, and websites in the final section of her book. Her message comes not only from experience, but from others in the grief/trauma counseling field, in this guidebook that rings true and pulls the reader in for more. Recommended for all interested adults.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585428281
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/28/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 545,734
  • Product dimensions: 8.46 (w) x 11.80 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Val Walker has a master's of science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University. Formerly a bereavement coordinator at a hospice in Maine, Walker teaches and speaks widely at hospitals, schools, community centers, and businesses on the art of comforting. She lives in Maine.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2010

    Informative

    Compassion and comfort - these are difficult to find these days. We hope to find them in ourselves, our friends, churches, and medical professionals, but quite often there is little information or training for those entrusted with this responsibility.

    The Art of Comforting is an interesting and informative book that gives instruction on what to say, and also how to say it. Not just a few suggestions, but several pages of comparing platitudes with more helpful comments and even the body language that portrays comfort.

    A large portion of the book introduces us to several individuals involved in professions in which they have developed skills in comforting and encouragement. There are suggestions from a Victim's Advocate, a Nurse Practitioner, a Patient education Specialist and a Minister, each with their unique skills and perspectives. There was a wonderful section on the comfort and love that animals bring into our lives.

    There were a couple of things I didn't like in the book. The section on Art as a Source of Comfort was not something I found interesting. There are some odd political comments complaining about cuts in government social services (thanks, but I would rather not get my comfort or compassion from the government!), and there was a much-too-long list of the author's list of life's comforts.

    All in all, this is a nice book with good information for those who want a more compassionate personality.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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