CULTIVATING EMPATHY: Inspiring Health Professionals to Communicate More Effectively

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What it Feels Like to Experience Empathy

Pp. 84-98 (15)

Kathleen Stephany


Chapter four stressed the importance of understanding what it feels like to be the recipient of empathetic care. It was pointed out that, empathy requires that we resist the temptation to do for others. Instead helpers must make it their intention to learn to be and feel with others. For example, when directly confronted with another’s pain, the helping professional must learn to resist the temptation to give advice or reassurance, or to explain their own position or feelings. In the case in point a young student shares how an empathetic nurse helped her to choose life. In the section on something to ponder, the significance of being genuine and using silence was emphasized. A learning exercise was also suggested to discern between words and actions that demonstrate empathy and ones that do not.


Active listening, empathy, genuineness, human touch, narratives, professional boundaries, silence, story.


Full Time Nurse Educator in the Faculty of Health Sciences Douglas College, BC Canada Canada.