Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Empathy - A Healing Art That Forms Bonds

Have you wondered lately how you would feel if you were in someone else's place? Of course, especially if you are a caregiver. Good caregivers are often naturally empathetic. Intuitively sensing how someone else is feeling, emotionally or physically, is part of empathy. Acknowledging, instead of ignoring, someone else's feelings makes the person feel that someone understands, someone "gets it." It makes someone feel that others care.

When I managed a psychiatric office for twenty years, often I would hear patients say to the doctor, who was also my husband, "Gee Doc, you really 'get it,' but no one else understands me." This would be because some form of acknowledgement of the person's feelings had been made.

Listening with empathy is a common topic that is discussed in communication classes, and it's often described as reflective listening. Carl Rogers, author of "Client Centered Therapy" referred to "sensitive reflection and clarification."

Noticing the nonverbal signals, observing details of the situation, and untuitively sensing what is happening in someone else's world help provide clues when someone is not putting it into words.

Recently I arrived to assist an elderly senior, and found out that she had fallen in the home a few days earlier. The emergency room had not found any broken bones, and so she was sent home. When I arrived I could see she was in a lot of pain, but the caregivers said she was refusing medication or further help. I knew she was a strong, independent person. I said, "I can see you are really hurting, even though I know you're always stoic and you don't like to complain. " She opened up to talking to me. We made another trip to see a doctor so that something could be done for the pain.

In Spanish there is a saying that friends who share and trust are "simpatico." They are "reading from the same page." Empathy leads to "simpatico."

No comments: