Alumni, Community and Student Engagement Initiatives

The Importance of Empathy

The marriage and family therapy literature recognizes, almost universally, that empathy is the cornerstone of an effective therapeutic alliance. Empathy is summarized in the literature as the ability to empathize with others: the ability to sense another’s world as if it were their world – a critical process to all human relationships and an essential ingredient. According to researchers, when empathy is operating on three levels – interpersonal, cognitive and affective – it is one of the most powerful tools therapists have at their disposal since it helps clients pay attention and value their experiencing, see earlier experiences in new ways, modify their perceptions of themselves, others and the world, and increase their confidence in making choices and pursuing a course of action. It is the therapist’s ability to ‘reflect’ the experiences of clients then, that helps produce in clients’ self-understanding and clarification of their beliefs and worldviews.

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