Accurate empathic understanding is perhaps the most important skill a therapist can possess. It allows the therapist to be completely in tune with the patient’s experience, feelings, and emotions in the moment. This understanding is what allows the therapist to provide the necessary context for the relationship and to offer unconditional positive regard. It is a moment-to-moment sensitivity that is in the “here and now,” the immediate present. The therapist must be able to understand and accurately communicate this understanding to the client in order to effectively help them heal. Therapists need to be able to have empathy for their patients in order to provide the best care possible. Being empathic enables the therapist to be in tune with their patient’s experience, feelings, and emotions at any given moment. This awareness gives them a deep understanding of what it feels like for that individual throughout the treatment which helps provide context as well offers unconditional positive regard because they are able to see things from an alternate point of view without judgment or criticism. It also allows therapists who have been through difficult times themselves to understand how others might feel when going through similar situations.
In order to have empathy, one must be able to put themselves in another person’s shoes and understand how they might feel. It is a deep understanding and sensitivity towards others that can only be achieved by being completely present in the moment. Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is feeling bad for someone, whereas empathy is feeling for someone. Empathy allows us to see the world from another person’s perspective and share in their feelings. It is an important tool for therapists because it allows them to connect with their patients on a deeper level and understand what they are going through. Empathy is a necessary ingredient for healing because it creates a safe space for vulnerability and trust. When we feel understood, we feel seen and heard. This feeling of being seen and heard is what allows us to open up and share our deepest wounds. Without empathy, therapy would be much more difficult because it would be harder to build trust and establish a safe space for vulnerability. Empathy is the key to feeling understood, and feeling understood is the key to healing.
Healing comes from within. It is an inside job. But in order for us to do the work of healing, we need to feel safe enough to go within. We need to feel seen, heard, and understood. That’s where empathy comes in. When we feel understood, we feel safe enough to open up and do the work of healing.