The Soul of the Helper

Seven Ways to See the Sacred in Yourself So You Can See It In Others

Holly K. Oxhandler

Caretakers come in many forms—from parents to teachers; nurses to doctors; social workers to first responders. What they all have in common, in addition to admirably high levels of empathy, is a tendency to work for the wellbeing of others to the point of burnout.

When this happens, alien feelings creep in of guilt, anger, and resentment. These are surefire signs of mental, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. Yet caretakers usually have no recourse, and they feel that if they were to take a step back, they would be failing in their duty.

In The Soul of the Helper, Dr. Holly Oxhandler invites these individuals to lay down their burdens temporarily and realize that if they let their personal resources run dry, they cannot possibly care for others as fully as they wish. In fact, their attempts might even be counterproductive.

Coming from a background in faith-based mental health, Dr. Oxhandler teaches helpers a seven-step process to slow down and reconnect with the stillness within themselves. That stillness—what Oxhandler calls the “sacred spark”— is the seat of the soul. By allowing themselves to exist in that stillness for a time, caregivers will come to understand that they, too, are worthy of care. What’s more, they will be able to see freshly the sacred spark that dwells inside everyone else, including the person or persons for whom they’re caring.

As a clinician, researcher, and person of faith, Dr. Oxhandler wrote The Soul of the Helper as a scientifically rigorous treatment of how spiritual and religious beliefs influence the lives of professional (and nonprofessional) caregivers. At the same time, she writes in a wonderfully accessible style, shares many relatable stories, and widens her scope to include believers of all faiths and spiritual traditions.

This is a book for caregivers everywhere, in every role, who sense the sacred spark within them saying, in effect: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”