Cultivating Empathy: Inspiring Health Professionals to Communicate More Effectively (Revised Edition)

When the Client/Patient Feels All Alone

Author(s): Kathleen Stephany

Pp: 36-51 (16)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815036480122010006

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


In Chapter Two, personal stories are shared by people who experienced or
witnessed a lack of empathy. These stories are not intended to place blame on helpers.
The goal is to assist practitioners with a better understanding of what it feels like to be
treated with a lack of care in order to ultimately inform practice. We learn that
communication is a two-way process and health practitioners can improve their
capacity for empathy by becoming better listeners and more self-aware. Four specific
narrative case studies are examined closely, followed by the identification of key
themes and questions for discussion. The first is a story of what it feels like to be afraid
to speak up. In the second situation, a patient receives bad news but has no one to turn
to for comfort. The third involves a Coroner’s investigation that explores what
happened before someone ended their life. The last narrative tells a story of a patient
who is treated with a lack of respect. In the Case in Point, a nurse recounts what it felt
like to be a patient who was treated with indifference. At the end of the Chapter,
reflective journaling is encouraged to increase self-awareness as a means to improve
our capacity to act with empathy.

Keywords: Coroner’s investigation, Detached concern, Empathy, Hopelessness, Indifference, Narratives, Objectification, Psychological autopsy, Safety plan, Self-awareness, Stigma, Stories.

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