Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Importance of Practicing Empathy in Family Therapy

Empathy represents the ability to relate to the emotions and thoughts experienced by another person. Think about the phrase, “If I could walk a mile in your shoes.” Empathy is all about putting yourself in the place of someone else and trying to recognize and feel the same emotions. For family therapy, empathy is important for the therapist to display, but it also is an important trait for family members to possess if they expect to make breakthroughs trying to settle family issues.

There is a tendency for people to think empathy and sympathy are the same things. Sympathy is the ability to recognize and care about the feelings of someone else. On the other hand, empathy takes sympathy a step further by not only caring about another person’s feelings, but also putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to relate to how the other person is feeling.

Sympathy=I care about what you feel.

Empathy=I am feeling what you are feeling.

What is the Relationship Between Empathy and Psychology?

People that measure high on empathy tests typically report they interact in larger social circles, as well as develop more satisfying relationships than people that experience low levels of empathy. Couples that participate in therapy sessions work to develop the traits that define empathy through role-playing a wide variety of relationship scenarios. Psychological tests demonstrate that empathy is a vital trait to possess when interacting with loved ones, but it also helps anticipate reactions, persuade others to take a certain course of action, and improve the relationships developed with employers and professional peers.

What is the Role of Empathy in Family Therapy?

Empathy plays a critical role in determining the outcome of family therapy sessions. Deep-rooted animosity can derail any attempt for family members to resolve long-lasting problems, such as a lack of respect shown by a child towards one or both parents. For the therapist side, empathy helps create a bond of trust, which is especially important for developing a strong relationship with cynical teenagers. Therapists that display a high level of empathy help clients overcome the mental and emotional roadblocks that form because of highly negative past experiences.

Family members that have built a strong level of empathy are much more likely to see things the same way another family member sees things. Creating a mutual understanding is the foundation for building relationships that help resolve issues, not destroy family relationships. Empathy is not about pitying a family member, and a successful therapist emphasizes this when conducting family therapy sessions.

Is There a Cost of Caring?

Is it possible to care too much about the feelings and emotions expressed by a family member? Some research studies indicate some people are much more influenced by someone’s feelings and emotions than other people. One study released in 2013 demonstrated that highly empathetic women who find out a close friend went through a tragic life event experienced up to 14 percent more stress in their lives. Highly empathetic men who learn that a friend or a family member received a demotion experienced up to 15 percent more stress.

One of the many roles of a successful therapist involves identifying the highly empathetic members of a family before starting therapy sessions.

Author: verified_user