More on empathy: considering students' responses and Edith Stein's framework for a fuller, transformative empathy

Gair, Susan (2009) More on empathy: considering students' responses and Edith Stein's framework for a fuller, transformative empathy. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 11. pp. 51-69.

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Abstract

Empathy is a very familiar term in the helping and counselling literature. Commonly it is understood to mean perceiving accurately the emotions of another person, or ‘walking a mile in another person’s shoes’. It is considered to be crucial to any successful therapeutic engagement. How to teach and learn empathy seems much less clear in the literature. In the project described here the concept of empathy was explored through a comprehensive literature review (previously published in Advances), and subsequently, through a phenomenological inquiry with second year social work and welfare students at a regional Australian University. In separate skills workshops for internal and distance education students, participants were guided to define, engage with, and reflect upon the concept of empathy. Overall, the findings suggest that students’ empathy predominantly included the language of seeing, understanding, and the therapeutic engagement itself, it is suggested here that embracing a fuller empathy may have significant, transformative potential. However, teaching and learning empathy may take more time, and students may need more comprehensive instruction than currently may be undertaken, particularly for positive engagement between non-Indigenous practitioners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Item ID: 8173
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: empathy; social work education
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ISSN: 1329-0584
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2010 06:24
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160701 Clinical Social Work Practice @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940107 Comparative Structure and Development of Community Services @ 100%
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