Posted by Gherardo Della Marta 1455 Days Ago
What is Empathy?
Empathy has been described in different ways: walking in another's shoes, entering into another person's frame of reference or having the ability to experience life as the other person does by entering the person's world of thoughts, feelings, emotions and meanings.
In counselling, empathy is an expression of the regard and respect the counsellor holds for the client whose experiences maybe quite different from that of the counsellor. The client needs to feel "held", understood as well as respected. To hold a client therapeutically means the counsellor is capable to accept and support the client through any issues, concerns, problems she/he can brings. The ability to empathise with another is enhanced by an alert attentiveness to facial expressions, body language, gestures, intuition, silences and so on.
Sympathy on the other hand is not empathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone. It is to create sorrow in oneself in response to the perceived sense of another.
When we feel sympathy for someone we might view them with pity. While pity makes a victim of the sufferer, empathy empowers them: "I have a sense of your world, you are not alone; we will go through this together".
Carl Rogers(1969), the founder of person centred counselling, concluded that the important elements of empathy are:
Finally it is only when you can really be open, clear and sensitive to the emotions and feelings of the other that authentic care begins.