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Tuning in to others 2011


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Ian Healy on Empathetic Listening

Ian Healy on Empathetic Listening

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  • 2. EGAN • Gerard Egan {1999} The Skilled Helper. • Empathy as an interpersonal communication skill. • Barrett and Lennard {1981} talk about The Empathy Cycle- 3 phases Empathic Resonance Expressed Empathy Received Empathy Journal of Counselling Psychology, 28, 91-100.
  • 3. The phases and focus of empathy • Abstract • Interpersonal empathy is a subtle and multisided phenomenon which can, nevertheless, lend itself to systematic portrayal and investigation. This paper further refines the author's account of empathy as involving a sequence of distinct steps or phases. Freshly introduced here is the idea of empathic response not only to self- experience but also towards relationships conceived as emergent living wholes with their own felt presence and individuality. Given described preconditions for empathy, three main phases in a complete empathic process are distinguished: reception and resonation by the listener; expressive communication of this responsive awareness by the
  • 4. • empathizing person; and the phase of received empathy, or awareness of being understood. The phases are not a single closed system, thus do not occur in lock step and are semi- autonomous in practice. Responding empathically to relationship systems (existing as 'we' or 'us' to the participants and as a joint 'you' to others) may be interwoven with empathic response to individual 'I' experience. Although differing in focus, the empathic process follows the same phasic course in both cases. An underlying view is that individual selves are only one of the forms human life takes; other forms include relationships, families and living communities. • Br J Med Psychol. 1993 Mar;66 ( Pt 1):3-14. • The phases and focus of empathy Barrett-Lennard GT.Murdoch University, Australia.
  • 5. PRIMARY ORIENTATION • Empathy is a basic value that informs and drives all helping behaviour {Egan, 2000}. • Goleman {1995, 1998} empathy at the heart of emotional intelligence • Goleman- “social radar for sensing others’ feelings and perspectives.” • Taking an interest in their concerns……mm!
  • 6. EMPATHY AS RADICAL • Egan {2000} sees empathy as a radical commitment to appreciate people in a three fold manner: 1. consciously attempting to understand the person from her point of view; in the context of her feelings and with an ability to reflect this back to her, with accuracy. 2. Consciously seeking to comprehend her/her life in its actual social setting. 3. Recognising and understanding any dissonance between her point of view and reality.
  • 7. EMPATHY AS AN ASPECT OF GENUINENESS • The risk of the inauthentic practitioner. • Sympathising, perhaps, in lieu of empathising. • Protected by a professional shield. • Empathy cannot be contained within political correctness. Diversity must mean what it says on the packet.
  • 8. SELFLESSNES • The suspension of the professional’s own concerns • Whilst remaining centred within himself; not overly absorbed into the person’s world i.e. to the detriment of his own functioning/well being. • To empathise is one thing, to over identify is ultimately not to serve anyone’s interests.
  • 9. EMPATHY AIDS FOCUSSING AND SHARING • Egan {2000} helps person clarify ‘problems’ and identify opportunities. • Determine and evaluate goals that they choose to set for themselves. • Likewise choose appropriate actions to achieve such goals.
  • 10. EMPATHY ENHANCED. • As well as entailing skills, empathy is every bit a way of being. • To be nurtured and distinguished from sympathy and/or imposing your own agenda. • Over time you may come to sense meanings of which the other person is barely aware. • However, be careful not to psychologise people; second guess them; as if you know how they ought to be feeling. • Egan p.205 “Sharing empathic highlights constructively depends on social competence and emotional intelligence.”