Empathy in counseling and psychotherapy

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empathy in counseling and psychotherapy

Inclusive Cultural Empathy: Making Relationships Central in Counseling and Psychotherapy by Paul B. Pedersen

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Published 29.12.2018

Role Play: Person Centred Therapy

The start of a new year can be a time for reflection, and for me this year, I have been reflecting on my journey as a therapist.
Paul B. Pedersen

Problematic Empathy in Counseling and Psychotherapy

The purpose of this text is to organize the voluminous material on empathy in a coherent and practical manner, filling a gap that exists in the current therapeutic literature. Empathy in Counseling and Psychotherapy: Perspectives and Practices comprehensively examines the function of empathy as it introduces students and practitioners to the potential effectiveness of utilizing empathic understanding in the treatment process. Employing empathy with full recognition of its strengths and limitations promotes sound strategies for enhancing client development. As an integral component of the therapeutic relationship, empathic understanding is indispensable for engaging clients from diverse backgrounds. This cogent work focuses on understanding empathy from a wide range of theoretical perspectives and developing interventions for effectively employing the construct across the course of treatment. The book also presents a new approach for integrating empathy through a Multiple Perspective Model in the therapeutic endeavor.

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Empathy on the part of the therapist for those in therapy is also an important characteristic of therapeutic relationships. It is also distinct from compassion , a trait that combines elements of both empathy and sympathy. Empathy enables compassion as well as acts of charity but is not a necessary prerequisite for either; people may behave kindly for a number of reasons, many of which are not related to empathy. Altruism , or unselfish behavior that benefits others, is closely related to empathy. Altruistic acts generally indicate that a person experiences a high level of compassion for others.

Should I Avoid Thinking About my Panic Attack?

What happens when a client recounts a horrible act of violence in which they were the perpetrator and for which they express enjoyment and a lack of remorse? How do therapists react? Would they experience a lack of empathy or would they over-empathize in an attempt to connect with the client? As Rogers suggested, therapy is more successful if the therapist communicates accurate empathy to the client. Therefore, what do therapists do if they are experiencing feelings of problematic empathy? Norcross, Dryden, and De Michele proposed that therapists seek personal counseling in order to better use themselves as a tool in therapy. Our interest lies with the specific forms of countertransference involved when therapists experience a lack of empathy or over-identify with the client.

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