VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
Psychological Approaches to Deep Empathy
P. David Glanzer
Empathy is a core concept in counseling. Yet counseling skills texts, while emphasizing the importance of empathy, give relatively little guidance about just what constitutes this skill, or how to acquire it. Empathy itself is typically taken to be a basic human capacity that needs little explanation, beyond distinguishing it from sympathy. While the inference is that one can be empathic without being sympathetic, the consistent injunction to counselors is to use empathy sympathetically. Yet complicating this rather simple understanding of empathy is Rogers’ (1980) description of deep empathy as “entering the private perceptual world of the other and becoming thoroughly at home in it,” a claim that borders on the mystical. As Hart (2000) described this deep empathy, understanding of the other deepens beyond what I can easily explain. I seem to experience the other’s feelings directly in my own body or recognize patterns, histories, or meanings that do not appear to come from interpreting the words and gestures that we exchange. (p. 253)