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

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

Val Walker. Tarcher, $15.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-58542-828-1

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.)