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Empathy in Psychotherapy – Is it a tool or a gift?

Empathy in Psychotherapy – Is it a tool or a gift?

Empathy is an ambiguous phenomenon, differently described by philosophers, scientists, practitioners, and neuroscientists. Majority of authors agree it is a necessary ability to perform valuable psychotherapeutic interventions, and some (e.g., H. Kohut) see it as a main and only tool useful in our work. However, this ability may be not only beneficial, but has it pitfalls as well. During the training of the psychotherapy students the best possible personal and professional development is an ideal goal of the training staff.

Therefore the question about empathy comes inevitably to the focus of the discussion – is it a trainable skill, or a natural given? Author of the presentation will compare the views of different authors on the topic and will present its own opinion based on 32 years of experience in training of psychotherapy students and seasoned therapists in groups and individually. Possible combination of different training techniques will be described, and outcomes discussed.