Scholarly Saturday- Therapists Not That Empathetic????
This is entry is a follow up to the #innopsy Twitter chat I participated in earlier this week. The topic was compassion in the health care profession. Fostering empathy was a common issue. In looking at some research in this area the work of Hassenstab et.al. (2007) yielded interesting results. They questioned 20 therapists and 20 controls about various aspects of empathy. When it came facial expression and showing concern therapists were the same as the control group. The therapist group excelled in recognizing empathetic language and recognizing their own emotions. This sounds like the expected result.
What I found most helpful is the literature review and descriptions of the scales to break down the issue of empathy into parts. It is a construct that is difficult to measure but the attempts to do so are interesting. As mental health clinicians we should not assume we are empathetic. We should look at this article, self reflect, and ask are you an empathetic person? This has helped me, I hope it helps you.
Hassenstab, J., Dziobek, I., Rogers, K., Wolf, O.T., and Convit, A. (2007) Knowing What Others Know, Feeling What Others Feel A Controlled Study of Empathy in Psychotherapists. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Vol. 195 (4) .