The rotating wave approximation (RWA) is well justified in a regime of a small perturbation. In this limit you can neglect the so-called Bloch-Siegert and Stark shifts. You can find an explanation in this paper. But, in order to make this explanation self-contained, I will give an idea with the following model

$$H=\Delta\sigma_3+V_0\sin(\omega t)\sigma_1$$

being, as usual $\sigma_i$ the Pauli matrices. You can easily work out a small perturbation series for this Hamiltonian working in the interaction picture with

$$H_I=e^{-\frac{i}{\hbar}\sigma_3t}V_0\sin(\omega t)\sigma_1e^{\frac{i}{\hbar}\sigma_3t}$$

producing, with a Dyson series, the following next-to-leading order correction

$${\cal T}\exp\left[-\frac{i}{\hbar}\int_0^tH_I(t')dt'\right]=I-\frac{i}{\hbar}\int_0^t dt' V_0\sin(\omega t')\sigma_1e^{\frac{2i}{\hbar}\Delta\sigma_3t'}+\ldots.$$

Now, let us suppose that your system is in the eignstate $|0\rangle$ of the unperturbed Hamiltonian. You will get

$$|\psi(t)\rangle=|0\rangle-\frac{i}{\hbar}\int_0^t dt' V_0\sin(\omega t')e^{-\frac{2i}{\hbar}\Delta t'}\sigma_1|0\rangle+\ldots$$
$$=|0\rangle-\frac{1}{2\hbar}\int_0^t dt' V_0\left(e^{i\omega t'-\frac{2i}{\hbar}\Delta t'}-e^{-i\omega t'-\frac{2i}{\hbar}\Delta t'}\right)\sigma_1|0\rangle$$

Now, very near the resonance $\omega\approx2\Delta$, one term is overwhelming large with respect to the other and one can write down

$$|\psi\rangle\approx|0\rangle-\frac{V_0}{2\hbar}t\sigma_1|0\rangle+\ldots.$$

but in the original Hamiltonian this boils down to

$$H_I=V_0\sigma_1\sin(\omega t)\left(\cos(2\Delta t)+i\sigma_3\sin(2\Delta t)\right)$$
$$=\frac{V_0}{2}\sigma_1\left(\sin((\omega-2\Delta)t)+\sin((\omega+2\Delta)t)\right)$$
$$+\frac{V_0}{2}\sigma_2\left(\cos((\omega-2\Delta)t)-\cos((\omega+2\Delta)t)\right)$$
$$\approx \frac{V_0}{2}\sigma_2$$

with all the counter-rotating terms properly neglected with the condition $\omega\approx 2\Delta$ applied. It is essential to emphasize that, as the applied field increases, this approximation becomes even less reliable and it is just the leading order of a perturbation series in a near-resonance regime.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-08-05 16:17 (UCT), posted by SE-user Jon