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You are empathic if…

• you have a comprehensive and, also, emotional imagination about how another person might feel (“I can really feel inside me how everything tenses up, I get goosepimples and I only want to run away, when I put myself in your shoes.”)

• you give voice to this imagination and show this in body language and

• the other party confirms this message as something in which they can recognise themselves

However, you cannot feel into another person, because you can only ever feel inside yourself. It is important to be clear about this. Otherwise you might think that you know what the other is feeling. That would be an encroachment on the emotional level and, therefore, exactly the opposite of empathy. Empathy, therefore, attempts to take in the other person’s observation perspective (“How would I feel if I were in your shoes?”) and so, more can be achieved: Firstly, it strengthens the relationship with the client, because empathy affirms his experience and he can experience himself as someone who can be understood. Secondly, in his empathic experience, the counsellor can offer the client new elements of that, which the client himself was unaware of or could not sense. Thirdly, the counsellor provides the client with a model, that somebody is able to respond to him affirmatively and sympathetically (with resonance). This can be a first step in beginning to also treat oneself affirmatively and sympathetically. Interactions with others influences the interaction with oneself. Empathy is considered a key effectiveness factor in psychotherapy research. In our approach, it is an important, change-effective event in the context of the psychological guiding processes “<a href=””>Akzeptanz</a>”.

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