One of the qualities that a counsellor needs to have is empathy. But what is empathy? And how does this benefit a client?
At the heart of Carl Rogers’ Person-Centred Approach is empathy. Along with congruence and being non judgemental, most counsellors now embody this approach within their counselling. These core conditions mean that the counsellor set aside their own feelings and judgements when listening to a client and begins to deeply feel and experience what the client is feeling. The counsellor tries to truly understand where the client is coming from and to walk in the client’s shoes. Empathy has been described as a ‘process’ of ‘being with’ the client.
We all experience the world differently and within the counselling room the counsellor tries to see the world as the client sees it. This enables the client to feel that the counsellor understands them and that they are feeling heard in their pain and experience. The empathic responses from the counsellor enables the client to go much deeper in their exploration of feelings and thoughts. Often, there may be more feeling beneath the surface that the client is not fully aware of and when the counsellor uses empathy in the correct way that these feelings can be brought to the surface and explored. Empathy also allows the client to be believe that they are worth understanding and that they are important enough to be truly listened to.
In a counselling session there is a lot going on. The counsellor will be in tune with the client; observing body language, tones of voice and facial expressions. From a counsellors perspective they will be ‘feeling’ their way through the session, and picking up on every slight, important, change in mood, atmosphere and feeling.
Being empathically listened to and having a counsellor experience life from your viewpoint can be a healing and cathartic experience. If you feel that you would benefit from counselling please contact me for further information.