Friday, April 25, 2014

What is empathy? (2)

What is empathy? (1)

Another supervisor of mine also taught me about how to empathize with the client. He chose to ask for help to the client. According to him, empathizing the client is basically difficult, because some clients have unique and strange worries to consult. The more their troubles are special, the more it is difficult for you to imagine them. To overcome this difficulty, you should know the emotion of the client more precisely. You can understand him only by asking your client about his feeling about the matter. Therefore, empathy is born from asking.

This concept relieved me, since it says that it is not embarrassing to ask for more detailed expression to the client. Former days, I misunderstood that psychiatrists had to read the mind of clients without any conversation. But it was ridiculous. Whenever I feel hard to empathize, I just talk with him. Finally, I will be able to trace his flow of mind.

One of my ex-bosses had an opinion that empathy is hardly achieved. When you feel that you can empathize with the client, you cannot empathize truly with him, because the client is absolutely different from you. He stated that empathy was not a goal, but a process. You make efforts to understand the client deeply, but it is a tough work. You try to save the client, but you are forced to face that it is not easy. You moan, discouraged, and feel desperate. These streams of emotion are an essence of empathy. Both your client and you are trapped in the troublesome situation. You are struggling together. This process is worth to be identified as empathy.

His thought is a little abstract. To be honest, I hardly understand his words still now. At least he described the complexity of empathy. He taught me that it is dangerous to feel that I completely understand about empathy with little experience.

Empathy is very complicated, although we often feel empathetic with others. Actually, there is no definite goal about this issue. Nevertheless, I dare to dig the concept continuously, for improving my skill as a psychiatrist.

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