Η ικανότητα του ατόμου να κατανοεί και να συμμερίζεται τα συναισθήματα, τις σκέψεις και τις ανησυχίες ενός άλλου ανθρώπου «σαν να» ήταν αυτός ο άλλος, διατηρώντας όμως ταυτόχρονα την ακεραιότητά του. Διαφέρει από την ταύτιση.
Θεωρείται ουσιαστικό εργαλείο κατανόησης του πελάτη στη συμβουλευτική και στην ψυχοθεραπεία.
(Χουντουμάδη & Πατεράκη, 2008)
- To να κατανοώ τον άλλο μέσα από το δικό του πλαίσιο αναφοράς ή αντιπροσωπευτικά να βιώνω συναισθήματα, αντιλήψεις και σκέψεις του προσώπου αυτού. Η ενσυναίσθηση δεν αποτελεί, από μόνη της, κίνητρο για βοήθεια, αν και μπορεί να μετατραπεί σε συμπάθεια ή προσωπική αγωνία, η οποία μπορεί να οδηγήσει σε δράση. Στην ψυχοθεραπεία, η ενσυναίσθηση του θεραπευτή για τον πελάτη μπορεί να είναι μια πορεία προς την κατανόηση των γνωσιών, των επιδράσεων, των κίνητρων και των συμπεριφορών του πελάτη.
Literal Greek meaning 'to suffer with' or 'alongside'. Empathy is probably the most important of the core conditions described by Rogers as essential factors in all psychotherapeutic relationships. The term is associated particularly with Rogers's clientcentred therapy where it is usually described as 'accurate empathy'. In 1979, Rogers described empathy as the ability of a person to perceive the situation of another as if it were his own, without ever losing the 'as if quality of the perception. It involves an active process of trying to enter the perceptual world of another as accurately and sensitively as possible in order to understand the other's thoughts, feelings and behaviour from his point of view. It involves adopting an accepting and nonjudgmental attitude to the client and to his experiences, enabling the confirmation and validation of his self, which in turn enables his negative self-concept to change. Rogers and Truax (1967) describe empathy as 'the ability of the therapist accurately and sensitively to understand experiences and feelings and their meaning to the client during the moment to moment encounter of psychotherapy' .
Barrett-Leonard (1981) has described the three stages involved in empathic interaction: the empathic resonance by person A in response to person B; A's attempt to convey his responsive understanding to B; and B's reception of A's empathic response. The process can continue over time, with stage one remaining the core feature. Raskin (1974) has showed that therapists from a wide variety of contrasting schools rank empathy among the highest qualities which a therapist can possess. Levels of accurate empathy have been measured and found by Bergin and Strupp (1972) to be correlated with a high degree of client selfexploration and with a high degree of confidence in interpersonal relations on the part of the therapist (Bergin and Solomon 1970).
Aspry (1972) and others have shown that empathy can be taught and that it is most successfully taught within an empathic climate.
Despite the complexity of the research issues involved, there seems to have been a resurgence in confidence in the correlation between high levels of therapist empathy and positive therapeutic outcome. Rogers (1975) has clarified the distinction between empathy and identification by noting the essential 'as if quality of the therapist's efforts to understand the patient's world. Curtis (1981) has shown that an inverse relationship exists between the amount of therapist self-disclosure and the perceptions of his empathy on the part of the client. Empathy remains one of the most studied relationship variables that occur in the client-therapist transaction and a large body of research is suggestive of its major contribution to positive outcome in therapy.
A.P.A. (2015). APA Dictionary of Phychology (2η εκδ.). (G. R. VandenBos, Επιμ.) Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Χουντουμάδη, Α., & Πατεράκη, Λ. (2008). Λεξικό Ψυχολογίας. Αθήνα: Τόπος.
Walrond-Skinner, S. (2013). A Dictionary of Psychotherapy. New York: Routledge.