Carl Rogers is famous for his person centred counselling theory. Within that theory he suggested there are Core Conditions that need to be present for counselling to have its full effect. One of these conditions is Empathy. Empathy is something we can all try to use when with another person. It is not about the words “I understand” because we don’t, we will never be inside someone else’s mind or body we will never be able to know exactly what they are thinking or feeling, but we can try to use our own experiences and feelings to empathise with how someone else might be feeling.
The aim of empathy is to see it from someone else’s view. to try to understand what they are feeling and thinking. Not to pity them but to feel with them.
For example if someone is talking about the death of someone they loved, what experiences can you draw on to understand them more? Remember how you felt when someone important died? Are they describing similar feelings? Are they talking about being bullied? Have you been bullied? Are they talking about being lonely? Have you been lonely, have you watched a film where feeling lonely was explored, have you read a poem about loneliness that my help you empathise? They won’t be feeling the exact same way that you felt, or that you’ve experienced in the past but these are good places to start.
Now use what you already have to put yourself in their shoes, listen to their words, look at their reactions, uses your experiences and your imagination, link your emotions into the process. To empathise try to think in someone else’s place.
If you are around Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme area and are interested in any basic counselling skills training please do contact us.